California’s new law signals opportunities for college athletes

Though many students who play sports for their respective colleges, universities and D1 schools hope to go pro, according to NCAA Recruiting Facts, only 2 percent of student athletes succeed in going forth as professionals. Statistics also show that 86 percent of student athletes live in poverty. With these statistics in mind, it is safe to say that students who spend much of their time training and competing expect some form of payout, whether by becoming a professional player, acquiring economic sustenance or earning a scholarship. In light of a new law signed by California Governor Gavin Newson that allows college athletes to be receive endorsement deals, there is rigorous debate about whether or not college athletes should be paid.

Although there are experts who think removing the National Collegiate Athletic Association rules could corrupt the game, it’s incredibly presumptuous to assume students could carry a four-year college career without financial worries. You cannot expect busy college students to happily volunteer the majority of their time to an athletic program that benefits the school instead of the athletes. The NCAA reportedly made $1 billion in revenue in 2017, and as of recent years, the validity of the value of the transaction between student players and their schools has been thrown into question. The course of action was especially pioneered by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, who filed a lawsuit seeking reimbursements for student athletes.

Thanks to O’Bannon and many other athletes and supporters, California law makers considered student players’ opportunity to receive pension for their efforts.

The senate bill states that according to the Student Athlete Bill of Rights, “intercollegiate athletic programs at 4-year private universities or campuses of the University of California or the California State University that receive, as an average, $10,000,000 or more in annual revenue derived from media rights for intercollegiate athletics” must grant said student athletes with a list of demands and compliances that the bill requires.

This bill grants the student the right to pursue representation by licensed personnel. It also protects the students’ grants and scholarships, making their collections independent from any compensation they may receive in the future. In other words, a college cannot revoke any grants or scholarships due to future compensations or higher earnings from other parties. The bill, however, denies a student to enter a contract that will contradict the contract of the school’s team. Another protective rule states a team contracted under the school may not prohibit athletes from participating in commercializing their names or images outside of official team activities.

There are professional athletes, basketball stars Draymond Green and Lebron James specifically, that have come out in support of the new law. Green tweeted “Extremely excited about the bill that passed tonight allowing players to be paid. Finally, we are making some progress and getting this thing right. Kids going to sleep hungry, can’t afford anything yet these Universities are profiting off those same kids. Sign it!!”

This bill will legally be set in motion Jan. 1, 2023. Californian student athletes who graduate before the year 2023 will unfortunately miss this opportunity for compensation, and even so, there are rules towards what type of schools can provide such requital. This is just the beginning of the regime change towards a better future for athletes.

Rachelle Barrett is a junior majoring in political science and broadcast journalism.