By Gregg E. Clifton, of Jackson Lewis
The California State Senate has unanimously passed the amendments to Senate Bill 206 in a concurrence vote making California the first state to allow college student-athletes to market and profit from their name, image and likeness without affecting their student-athlete status. The bill will now be placed before Governor Newsom for his consideration. The Governor will have thirty (30) days to either the sign the bill and make it law, to veto the bill, or to ignore the bill and allow it to become law by his lack of action.
Prior to the Senate vote, the NCAA anticipated the potential for the Senate approval of the legislation in the concurrence vote and forwarded a letter directly to Governor Newsom. The NCAA publicly released the letter that urged him to veto the bill. Specifically,
the letter from the Board of Governors reminded the Governor that nearly half a million student-athletes in more than 1100 schools in all 50 states compete under the same rules.
The NCAA asserted that this bill would “remove that essential element of fairness and equal treatment that forms the bedrock of college sports.” The letter ended with a specific directive to the Governor urging him to reconsider this “harmful” and what they believe to be “unconstitutional” bill.
Current NCAA bylaws state that any student-athletes who accept money or benefits from outside sources are in violation of NCAA amateurism rules. As a result, any student-athletes who would benefit from the California legislation would be subject to NCAA Bylaws that could result in the loss of their personal eligibility as well as the loss of their school’s team ability to compete for the NCAA Championship.
Whatever decision Governor Newsom makes, the bill primary sponsor, State Senator Nancy Skinner has consistently maintained that the 2023 effective date for the legislation was created for the purpose of giving the NCAA and their other member schools adequate time to adjust to the California law and either update or amend their current bylaws to address the ability of student-athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.