Why California’s “Fair Pay to Play Act” will change the future of the NCAA

With California Gov., Gavin Newsom officially signing Senate Bill 206 on LeBron James’ show “The Shop,” Monday evening, this will allow current California student-athletes to profit from their overall name and likeness, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) multi-billion-dollar empire will slowly but surely see its shady methods become extinct.

While the bill won’t be effective until Jan. 1, 2023, the signing of the bill will spearhead a movement that will force the NCAA to reshape their set in stone bylaws along with their overall governing body.

Now you may be asking yourself, what is California’s impact on being the first state to pass a bill this nature. For starters, the state of California is currently home to 58 NCAA schools, meaning the impact thy hold greatly impacts what other states govern their student-athletes by as well.

It’s not so much that the NCAA is opposed to modifying their rules based on the overall evolution of the entity, but rather it highlights the fear that they will no longer be able to dictate a student-athlete’s worth to a particular school.

Before SB 206 was officially passed in California, here is a brief excerpt issued by the NCAA Board of Governors on Sept. 11, 2019. (NCAA.org)

“…It would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions.”

While for years the NCAA has been spoon-feeding the casual collegiate sports consumer the false narrative that amateurism and competition have always been what’s in the “best” interest of the college athlete, this narrative has always failed to convey the underlying issue that has plagued the NCAA throughout its long existence.

Since its founding in 1906, it seems as though the main reason the NCAA was put into place, was to protect the integrity of its players and the game at hand, but in a not so strange way, the NCAA has become the very thing that it was always meant to be —– a business.

Well, now the year is 2019 and student-athletes want a cut of the pie as well.

“Athletic scholarships,” to go along with free education, will no longer serve as an excuse to not cough up the money that is rightfully owed to these players. For years, the NCAA has continuously robbed the very thing that generates their annual revenue and popularity and has prioritized the value their bottom line, while significantly compromising the athletes.

According to Forbes, throughout the past couple of years, NCAA’s yearly March Madness tournament alone, raked in an excess of 1.28 billion dollars in ad revenue in 2017, 1.32 billion dollars in national TV ad revenue in 2018, and is currently expected to have a steadily increase of 3% to 5% percent for each following year.

Now while it may seem obvious to the average person looking from the outside in and being able to identify this long-standing problem, the NCAA has continued to drag their feet on an issue that they’ve primarily created, and always seem ready to throw the gavel down the moment students want to go against the traditional grain.

For a second, put yourself in the place of a student-athlete and just imagine voluntarily using your physical gifts to benefit different media outlets and your respective university, while not seeing a penny of that money.

In 2004, former UCLA basketball star and NBA player Ed O’ Bannon, pioneered the 5-year case that sought out to prove the NCAA violated its antitrust laws, by not allowing athletes to profit from their likeness in broadcasts or video games, (EA Sports) when he took it to a district judge in the 9th circuit court and won his ruling in August 2009.

While the ruling didn’t necessarily hit the root of NCAA’s corruption, it catalyzed to get to the point where we are at today, in terms of the NCAA hiding behind its century-old brand.

Like all things in life, this process will come with a bit of uncertainty—–NCAA the ball is now in your court.