No Pay to Play: NCAA Reconsiders Current Policy in NIL Rights


Photo Credit: The Bleacher Report

Reggie Bush was pressured to forfeit his Heisman Trophy after the NCAA investigation proved he received ‘improper benefits’ during his time in the collegiate level.

Lauren Lafrades, Editor-In-Chief

On September 27th, California Governor, Gavin Newsom, signed into law Senate Bill 206, the Fair Pay to Play Act. In a unanimous decision by both the Assembly and the Senate, collegiate level athletes were granted the right to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL rights) through vehicles like endorsement and sponsorship deals. California was the first state to pass legislation on the widely debated topic of student-athlete compensation.

Shortly after, on October 29, 2019, the NCAA Board of Governors released a statement saying board members “voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.” This policy shift is to be initiated in 2023.

The NCAA garners revenues of 14 billion dollars annually through collegiate level athletics, especially through football and men’s basketball. Nearly every aspect of a Division 1 college game is commercialized. Jerseys, stadiums, halftime shows, and advertisements during game air time all contribute to the multi billion dollar value of the NCAA.

The current NCAA rules state that student athletes can be punished for taking any monetary reimbursement related to the sport such as celebrity appearances, sponsorship deals, or contact with professional agencies during their time with a college team. This policy is to solidify their “amateurism” that contributes to the college sports culture. If student athletes commit amateur violations, past precedence has shown athletes have been expelled from their college, kicked off athletic teams, or forced to forfeit awards.

In many cases, college athletes, particularly in the Power Five conferences, receive full ride scholarships to attend their given university in agreement to play. This isn’t true of all student athletes in the NCAA however. $986 million is spent annually on student-athlete scholarships to support 45,000 NCAA student athletes.

Proponents of the NCAA policy change argue that giving NIL rights to students could help alleviate living and tuition expenses. A report done on the NCAA entitled “Madness Inc.” states that the majority of college athletes live at or below the poverty level, when calculating their provided expenditure reimbursement and scholarship money.

On the other hand, avid sports fans insist that putting more money into college sports eliminates the drive of the game. Many believe college level athletics is popularized by its amateurism and the players’ hustle to reach the professional level. The differentiation between college and professional sports may fade with these proposed changes.

With California’s landmark legislation, it is likely that other states will follow suit. The question is how lawmakers and corporations will decide to split it.