A bill that would let college athletes in California profit from endorsements has a high-profile backer: NBA superstar LeBron James.
The bill, SB 206, called the Fair Pay to Play Act, would prohibit schools in California from taking away scholarships or eligibility from college athletes who use their celebrity to make money. Senate Bill 206 has cleared the state Senate and is awaiting a vote by the full California State Assembly.
James tweeted his support Thursday.
Everyone is California- call your politicians and tell them to support SB 206! This law is a GAME CHANGER. College athletes can responsibly get paid for what they do and the billions they create.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 5, 2019
The Los Angeles Lakers star followed that with a tweet saying: “California can change the game. This is only right waaaayy overdue. #morethananathlete.”
The Fair Pay to Play Act, which was introduced in February by state Sens. Nancy Skinner and Steven Bradford, also allows for athletes to hire an agent or attorney to represent them in business deals without losing their eligibility. Skinner said it would not require schools to pay their players, but instead guarantee players the same rights given to Olympic athletes. The law, if it is passed, would go into effect in January 2023.
NCAA president Mark Emmert wrote a letter to California legislators in May asking that they consider delaying their vote while his organization considered the impact of the law. Emmert suggested that California institutions, both public and private, would be barred from participating in NCAA championships if the law passed.
The NCAA formed a working group in May to examine issues with its current rules, which prevent any student-athletes from marketing their own names, images or likenesses. The NCAA working group is expected to provide a final report in October.
Several California schools, including Stanford and USC, are opposed to the bill.
Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir wrote a letter to the California State Senate expressing Stanford’s opposition.
“Allowing student-athletes to receive compensation from their name, image, and likeness, would present serious challenges for higher education institutions and to the collegiate sports model,” Muir said in his letter. “We believe that for any reform to be fair and meaningful to all student-athletes it needs to occur at the national level and be adopted by the NCAA.”
ESPN’s Dan Murphy contributed to this report.