California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the Fair Pay To Play Act earlier this week, which opens the door for college athletes to make money of their name, image and likeness despite NCAA rules preventing them from doing so. While the new law won't go into effect until January 2023, it has started a movement that is gaining significant steam with several other states considering similar legislation.
Now, it might go national.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), a former wide receiver at Ohio State, is considering proposing a federal law allowing players to profit off of their names, images and likenesses.
"I actually think that we need to do something quickly, within the next year," Gonzalez told ESPN. "I don't think you have three years to figure this out. I think decisions will start happening immediately."
Gonzalez also understands the need to do this responsibly.
"There are a lot of people who are trying to get a piece of the athlete who do not have their best interest in mind and are out for nefarious means," he said. "You can imagine a world where, if there were no guardrails in place, that it could get out of hand pretty quickly. That's the lane you're trying to carve. How do you do this to provide necessary and deserved benefits while not inviting a bigger problem alongside it?"
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is part of the NCAA's working group exploring options in the name, image and likeness debate. Gonzalez told ESPN that he's had conversations with Smith and is inclined to wait until after Smith and the working group deliver their recommendations to the NCAA in October before proposing a bill.
He might not have the luxury of time, though. Other states, including Florida, are already drafting similar laws with different timeframes. State Rep. Chip LaMarca (R) told SiriusXM this week that a similar law in Florida could be passed around April 2020 and be enacted 90 days later. CBS Sports previously reported that proposed Florida legislation was seeking an active date far earlier than the one set by California.
It appears inevitable that college athletes will be able to profit off of their name, image and likeness nationwide in the near future, whether through dozens of state bills or national legislation. The challenge now is determining how the NCAA will respond and whether this can all be worked into the framework of collegiate athletics.