If the NCAA truly values anything, it’s the association’s absolute dominance over the hundreds of universities and thousands of student-athletes that it governs, as well as its business model built on the foundation of collegiate amateurism.
With unanimous approval from the California state legislature, Senate Bill 206 — dubbed the Fair Pay to Play Act — is looking to rightfully upend the NCAA’s exploitative ways of managing its athletes. The bill proposes radical changes to the college landscape that would enable student-athletes to both hire agents and profit from their name, image and likeness, all without negative repercussions such as ineligibility. The bill would formally go into effect beginning on Jan. 1, 2023 if California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the bill into law.
NCAA President Mark Emmert and 21 other members of the organization’s board of governors are, as expected, quite unhappy with such a proposal. In a letter sent to Gov. Newsom on Wednesday, the board argued that such a bill was unconstitutional, harmful and would unilaterally shatter “a level playing field for all student-athletes.”
It would be one thing if the NCAA were solely worried about the logistics of one state thrusting thousands of its student-athletes into a new collegiate sports model full of agents and dollar signs. It would be another thing if the NCAA were merely waiting for its working group to deliver its opinion on athlete compensation in October before suggesting immediate change.
But that’s not the case here. That’s not what the NCAA is worried about.