Article Brief

The NCPA takes another big step toward securing equal economic freedoms for college athletes!

Should College Athletes Be Able To Sign Sponsorship Deals? A CA Lawmaker Says Yes

Right now scholarship requirements prevent student-athletes from earning any money from the use of their name, image or likeness, including in video games or advertisements. Senate Bill 206, known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, would change that for players at California’s 24 Division I public universities and colleges. The bill would require all athletic conferences and associations, including the NCAA, to adhere to the Fair Pay to Play Act.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said, “For too long college athletes have been exploited by a deeply unfair system. Universities and the NCAA make huge amounts of money from TV deals and corporate sponsorships of their teams.”

Student-athletes have long fought to profit from their personal brand but have been unsuccessful so far. Many of these athletes (82% living on campus and 90% living off campus) are living at or below the federal poverty lines, according to a 2012 study done by the National College Players Association and Drexel University Sports Management Program.

The study also looked at the fair market value of labor for football and men’s basketball players. The results show the average basketball player’s fair market value for labor was approximately $137,357 and the average men’s basketball player fair market value for labor was $289,829. As a result, from 2011-15, researchers found football and men’s basketball players forfeited an estimated $6,200,000,000.

Several years ago a former football player at USC filed a class action lawsuit claiming he deserved to get paid for all hours worked, including overtime. The US District Court for the Northern District of California and  Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against him, saying athletes are not employees entitled to minimum wage and overtime time pay.

In 2014 a federal judge ruled the NCAA can’t stop college football and basketball players from selling the rights to their names and likenesses, opening the way to athletes getting payouts once their college careers are over. However, that ruling was reversed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A bill introduced last session, the Student Athlete Bill of Rights, failed in committee. It would have allowed student-athletes to organize and make money from commercial sponsorships; however, that money would have gone into a trust until the athlete left school.