Senator Nancy Skinner Announces “The Fair Pay to Play Act”

February 5, 2019

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, today unveiled “The Fair Pay to Play Act,” which seeks to help level the playing field for college athletes in California by allowing them to sign sponsorship deals and receive other compensation, much like Olympic athletes are now allowed to do. The act is also designed to help lift collegiate athletes out of poverty.

“For too long, college athletes have been exploited by a deeply unfair system. Universities and the NCAA make huge amounts of money from TV deals and corporate sponsorships of their teams,” Skinner said. “Athletic talent has value, and college athletes deserve to share in that value. The Fair Pay to Play Act allows athletes to finally be compensated for their hard work —work that generates billions of dollars for their schools, corporate sponsors and media networks.”

The act, also known as Senate Bill 206, is coauthored by state Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, who was an athlete andcoach andhas been alongtime supporter of student athletes. “This is more than a sports issue. This is a civil rights issue about basic fairness,” said Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). “For decades, young athletes have been generating billions of dollars for their colleges, universities, and corporate sponsors,but many are not only enduring the daily challenges as collegiate athletes, they are also struggling just to get by financially. It is time to right this historic wrong.”

According to a 2012 study by the National College Players Association and the Drexel University Sports Management Program, the vast majority of full scholarship college athletes live at or below the poverty level in the United States. But the study also found that the fair market value for the average FBS men’s football player was $137,357, and for men’s basketball players, it was $289,829. By contrast, in 2010, the average FBS football coach received $3.5 million in annual salary, excluding bonuses.

In addition, athletes are not only having trouble making ends meet as they face the intense demands of participating in college sports while managing full academic course loads, but their financial pressures often prove overwhelming. According to a 2014 report by the College Sport Research Institute at the University of South Carolina, revenue-producing athletes graduate at a rate 17.5 percentage points lower than other male students.

Under The Fair Pay to Play Act, collegiate athletes at California’s 24 public and private colleges and universities that participate in Division 1 sports will be eligible to be paid directly from a private or commercial source for their name, image, and likeness. SB 206 would also make it unlawful for any organization to restrict these rights to collegiate athletes, and it would be unlawful to revoke a scholarship because of payment for name, likeness, or image.

In addition, Sen. Skinner plans to add provisions to the legislation that would ban any organization (mainly the NCAA) from enforcing compensation thresholds (including scholarships, monetary, and combination of the two), while allowing athletes to obtain legal representation (including agents). The planned additions also would allow universities to opt-out of the act, although doing so would render those institutions less competitive in athlete recruitment.

“The Fair Pay to Play Act also doesn’t require universities to foot the bill,” Skinner said. “And it will help relieve the considerable financial pressure on young athletes to turn pro before they’ve completed their degrees, allowing them to stay in school.”

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Senator Nancy Skinner (@NancySkinnerCA) represents the 9th Senate District. She serves as Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary.