What the Fair Play to Pay Act means for student athletes

Governor Gavin Newsom signs a new act that will allow California student athletes to be paid.

Governor Gavin Newsom (left) with LeBron Janes (right) discussing the Fair Play to Pay Act (HBO Sports)

For a long time, student athletes around the world weren’t being paid for anything attached to their name. Things such as jersey sales, autographs and any other merchandise that has a student athletes name attached doesn’t go back to them.

Instead of gaining any sort of revenue from those sales, the student athletes wouldn’t get anything, but the NCAA and the school they attend would. However, Governor Gavin Newsom would change that in the state of California.

Newsom appeared on the “Uninterrupted”  HBO show, “The Shop” where he spoke with several people, such as NBA star LeBron James and sports agent Rich Paul. While on the show, Newsom signed the Fair Play to Pay Act, giving California student athletes the ability to be paid for their likeness and self-image by 2023. The act also allows student athletes to hire an agent to represent them.

“Fourteen plus billion dollars goes to these universities, goes to these colleges, a billion plus revenue to the NCAA themselves, and the actual product, the folks putting their lives on the line, putting everything on the line are getting nothing.” said Newsom.

“Part of the reason why I went to the NBA was to get my mom out of the situation she was in,” said James.

James, who grew up in a poor environment declared himself eligible for the NBA draft instead of going to college. He wanted to get his mom out of a poor situation and didn’t want to be profited off of his hard work and self-image.

“Sitting in my seat, I believe that it’s a beginning of an educational process for the athlete if they’re able to benefit from the image and likeness because they get to the highest level and they’re uneducated on the business of themselves as an individual,” said Paul.

Paul, who is a sports agent has been in charge of managing several athletes who are currently playing professional or who are being scouted by professional associations such as the NBA.

The NCAA itself has shown to be accommodating to the act, saying they’ll make “adjustments to their rules,” so they can be “realistic in modern society and tied to higher education.” However, if the rules of the NCAA don’t change by 2023, California teams will be banned from taking part in their competitions.

Several schools believe that this act is going to end up “destroying college sports” and not how much this act can actually help several student athletes situations that are hidden behind closed doors. Even just a small percentage of merchandise attached to them can be helpful to those situations.

With these students being able to be paid, it provides several positives for their lives. But while there are people who think there are positive aspects of this act, there’s some who don’t believe that student athletes should be paid.

“I feel that as long as they receive a scholarship to attend the school, they shouldn’t be paid,” said Brendan Montes, a student at Saddleback said.

Montes originally didn’t know that student athletes weren’t being paid, but upon finding this out, still doesn’t believe that they should be paid.

For Saddleback’s men’s basketball coach Andy Ground, he feels indifferent about the act.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect the majority of the student athletes in the state of California, that’s probably for a select few of the elite type of guys, football and basketball,” said Ground.

Ground believes that the ones being affected by the act isn’t going to be a high percentage, but more likely just a small one percent, believing that the act, “isn’t going to be that big of a deal.” As for the rules the NCAA has in place right now, Ground feels like they’re doing better when it comes to paying student athletes.

“They’ve actually made great strides to pay certain programs a stipend beyond their FAFSA or their financial aid packet, beyond their scholarship, and they get quite a bit of money, extra money a month.” 

With the NCAA paying certain school programs a small amount outside of what they’re usually receiving from things such as financial aid, it shows that they’re willing to give some athletes a small profit from what they’re doing.

With this act being passed, Newsom believes that this is just the beginning for student athletes being paid. Newsom wants California to be the state that others look at and follow by creating acts similar to the Fair Play to Pay Act.