On Monday, September 30, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill 206 which will permit student-athletes at California four-year colleges to accept compensation for the use of their name, likeness, or personal appearance which is contrary to current NCAA rules.

The Bill will not take effect until January 1, 2023.

The NCAA Board of Governors has stated their opposition to the Bill. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is chairing an NCAA committee that is tasked with review of the current NCAA rules regarding endorsement legislation and considering possible changes to those rules.

Reaction from Universities Outside the State of California

Initial reaction from athletic directors at major universities outside California is concern about the unfair recruiting advantage that California colleges will have. These universities are also expressing reluctance to schedule competition against California colleges in the future.

In fact, the California colleges and universities won’t be eligible for NCAA post-season competition if this issue isn’t resolved before Senate Bill 206 becomes effective in 2023.

My Thoughts on This Issue

Many are in favor of student-athletes having the opportunity to benefit from the exposure that they bring to their college teams. However, given my 25+ years working on-campus in NCAA compliance, I have many thoughts about how this will affect student-athletes and athletic departments as a whole.

Does a star athlete bring exposure to their team, or is it the other way around?

For example, would a star athlete at USC or UCLA have as much “value” when endorsing a product if they were instead playing for Cal Baptist or UC-Santa Barbara?

How will this affect student-athletes in non-revenue sports?

If local businesses that support a college athletic department choose to instead pay student-athletes directly for endorsing their business, could this result in fewer dollars from local businesses supporting the non-revenue sports like swimming, track and field, rowing, wresting and have a negative impact on those sports?

Will endorsements have an affect on the way an athlete competes?

Say for example, a star basketball player is receiving $100,000 or more from a booster to endorse that booster’s business. Will the player listen to the coach’s instructions if he’s told that he’s to pass to a teammate for the last-second shot or will he take the shot himself?

Will offensive linemen let the quarterback get sacked as retaliation if the quarterback isn’t sharing his endorsement dollars by purchasing meals or other items for the linemen?

Similarly, will the infielders and outfielders provide solid defense for a starting pitcher who’s receiving large fees for endorsements as the projected #1 pick in the upcoming major league baseball draft?

Could the colleges and universities in California choose to leave the NCAA to form their own statewide athletic governing body?

That would be possible, since the California community colleges already have their own California Community College Athletic Association which is completely separate from the National Junior College Athletic Association.

It seems to me, however, that such a move could severely damage the bargaining power and potential revenue from ESPN, Fox Sports, and other networks and streaming services that currently provide a substantial portion of revenues received by those NCAA universities.

In Summary

There are no specific answers to any of these concerns at this time, but it’s a topic that will be interesting to follow in the upcoming months and years.