Proposed bill may allow collegiate endorsement opportunities

Proposed bill may allow collegiate endorsement opportunities

Photo Credits: JEREMY DANG / AGGIE

Senator Nancy Skinner proposes a “Fair to Play Act”

California State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) recently proposed Senate Bill 206, known as “The Fair to Play Act” in order to allow collegiate athletes to accept sponsorship deals for their name, image or likeness. Washington State Representative Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn) recently proposed a similar bill.

Under the proposed bill, collegiate athletes from California’s 24 public universities would be able to accept money from organizations in exchange for sponsorship or endorsement deals. The majority of college athletes, even those who currently have full-ride scholarships, are located at or below the poverty line, according to a 2012 study by the National College Players Association. This study is one of the driving factors that pushed Skinner and coauthor Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) to draft this proposed bill.

Under current NCAA guidelines, college-level athletes are prohibited from accepting money for endorsements or from hiring agents. SB 206 would essentially remove the NCAA’s prohibition on these matters. It would also make it against the law for any organization to revoke a scholarship because of these endorsements. If passed, collegiate athletes would have similar choices to Olympic athletes in regards to receiving endorsements while competing. In the past, the NCAA has argued against endorsements for collegiate athletes, asserting that it would blur the lines between being a student and an athlete.

“For too long, college athletes have been exploited by a deeply unfair system,” Skinner said in a recent interview with FOX KTVU 2 News. “Universities and the NCAA make huge amounts of money from TV deals and corporate sponsorships of their teams. ‘The Fair Pay to Play Act’ allows athletes to finally be compensated for their hard work — work that generates billions of dollars for their schools, corporate sponsors and media networks.”

Skinner and Bradford are expected to add more provisions to the bill throughout the next few months. These provisions would add language that prevents institutions from revoking scholarships for endorsed athletes and allows athletes to acquire legal representation and sports agents if needed. Furthermore, colleges and universities would be able to remove themselves or opt-out of the act. However, opting-out could potentially make the university less competitive when it comes to recruiting and signing future collegiate athletes.

There has not been a clear statement on what the passage of this bill would do for the UC system schools that have Division I level sports programs like UC Davis. Director of Athletics at UC Davis, Kevin Blue, declined to comment on the issue, giving this statement to The Aggie: “There are several aspects to this important and complex issue. At the moment, we do not have any comment on it.”

Written by: Ryan Bugsch — sports@theaggie.org