California governor signs law allowing college athletes to be paid for name, image and likeness as NCAA protests

The state of California made history Monday when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that will enable college athletes to sign endorsement deals and hire agents while protecting their collegiate eligibility. Senate Bill 206 has been in the works for nearly a year and swept through two state legislative houses this summer, giving college athletes the ability to profit off their name, image and likeness.

The Fair Pay to Play Act won't take effect until Jan. 1, 2023. 

Newsom signed the bill over the protest of the NCAA, which has warned of national fallout over the measure. Most notably, in the eyes of the NCAA: if college athletes in California profit off their name, image and likeness, they could be found in violation of the organization's longstanding amateurism rules. If that were ruled true by the NCAA, teams and athletes from the state of California would be subject to a ban from NCAA championship competition. 

Whether that actually happens remains up for debate. The far-off activation date for the law specifically allows the NCAA time to adjust its own bylaws accordingly. The bill protects student-athletes and gives them liberation in a way that's never before happened at the collegiate level. In short: Any punitive measure brought on by the NCAA -- whose Board of Governors labeled the bill unconstitutional earlier this month -- or even a conference would be liable to a lawsuit from student-athletes. 

California is the first of what could become many states to allow student-athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. If that happens, the NCAA would have virtually no choice but to alter its rulebook due to the sheer volume of states and schools therein that would be empowered under similar legislation as to what Newsom signed into law Monday. Two other states, Washington and Colorado, are already exploring similar laws, while New York and South Carolina have also entered the introductory stages of similar legislation. 

A source tells CBS Sports that a Florida representative is not only beginning to craft a similar bill, but is aiming for an enactment date prior to 2023.

If the NCAA chooses to deflect California's new law and opts to keep status quo with its amateurism rules, lawsuits in the years to come will be inevitable. The important distinction with this law is that student-athletes would not be paid directly by schools, conferences or the NCAA. SB 206 allows for college athletes to receive compensation from outside enterprises, enabling them to profit off their ability, marketability, intellect and more -- the way every other college student outside the purview of the NCAA has been able to for decades. 

"This bill simply and rightfully allows student athletes to benefit from the multi-billion dollar enterprise of which they are the backbone," Newsom wrote in his letter to the California senate. "The bill does not change the fundamental promise we make to student athletes -- that they can participate in athletics while also gaining a meaningful education and attaining a college degree that will boost their economic opportunities for a lifetime." 

Newsom, who played collegiate baseball in California, explained some of his philosophy behind signing the bill on HBO's "The Shop."

The bill is powerful not just because it gives a star football or basketball player at USC or UCLA an opportunity for a major marketing deal, but it also provides opportunities for water polo players to be paid for giving swim lessons or softball players to take a paycheck for skills instruction. 

The NCAA responded Monday with this statement:

As a membership organization, the NCAA agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA's rules-making process. Unfortunately, this new law already is creating confusion for current and future student-athletes, coaches, administrators and campuses, and not just in California.

We will consider next steps in California while our members move forward with ongoing efforts to make adjustments to NCAA name, image and likeness rules that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education.

As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 campuses and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide.

The Pac-12 also responded negatively toward the new law in a statement:

This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports and many unintended consequences related to this professionalism, imposes a state law that conflicts with national rules, will blur the lines for how California universities recruit student-athletes and compete nationally, and will likely reduce resources and opportunities for student-athletes in Olympic sports and have a negative disparate impact on female student-athletes.   

While the NCAA is fighting this kind of unprecedented change at a macro level, college basketball coaches are in favor of it. CBS Sports polled more than 100 Division I men's coaches this summer and discovered that more than 75 percent of them were in favor of NIL rights for student-athletes

Monday's landmark legislation lands a few weeks in advance of what the NCAA has for months been working on behind the scenes. A working group has been examining the NIL topic and exploring ways to allow athletes to use their NIL, but allegedly in a way that would not make it explicitly a "pay-for-play" situation. The NCAA's working group is expected to put its formal recommendations for any NIL legislation up for consideration at the end of October, when the Board of Governors will convene in Atlanta. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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