California speeds up NCAA athlete compensation law to take effect Wednesday

Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 26, which increased the implementation date for California’s athlete compensation law from January 1, 2023, to September 1. | Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday evening that he has signed a bill that speeds up the timeline for California’s varsity athlete compensation law, making it effective Wednesday instead of 2023.

The Golden State’s Fair Pay to Play Act, a country’s first bill signed in 2019 alongside the NCAA and professional athletes, allowed student-athletes to enjoy their name, image and likeness, which until to recently was not allowed due to strict amateur rules. Since the California law came into effect, other states and even the NCAA itself have followed suit.

“California has led the charge against the unfair power imbalance in varsity sport, starting a national movement and bringing about long-awaited change in this multibillion-dollar enterprise,” Newsom said in a statement. “I am proud to strengthen our leadership with today’s legislation to extend and protect the rights of our varsity athletes to reap the rewards of their sacrifices and their success.”

Newsom signed Senate Bill 26 on Tuesday, which moved the implementation date for California’s athlete compensation law from January 1, 2023 to September 1. confused by the NCAA’s temporary suspension of its rules against name, image and likeness compensation.

Without California law coming into effect, state universities could develop their own rules, according to Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), one of the authors.

Pressure from the states, with California in the lead and Florida, New York and New Jersey mounting rapidly, led to the collapse of this long-standing NCAA policy. The organization’s unanimous vote last fall came after more than a decade of complaints and festering cynicism about the status of student-athletes – who earn nothing while their colleges and coaches reap the riches.

SB 26, written by State Sens. Skinner and Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), received unanimous votes in both houses of the California Legislature in August. The measure would also apply the Fair Pay to Play Act to community colleges across the state, in addition to extending athlete compensation to include income from their sports reputation.

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