Gov. Newsom Signs College Athletes Bill by Senators Skinner and Bradford

August 31, 2021

Gov. Gavin Newsom today signed SB 26, a bill by Senators Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, that moves up the implantation date of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act to Sept. 1, 2021. SB 26, which is co-authored by California Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita, also expands and strengthens the rights of college athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

“California for the win – again!” Sen. Skinner said. “We were the first state to grant college athletes the right to earn money from their name, image, and likeness with SB 206, the Fair Pay to Play Act, two years ago. And we sparked a national movement against the NCAA’s exploitation of college athletes, with more than 25 states joining our cause. Thank you, Gov. Newsom, for signing SB 26 and continuing California as the standard bearer for protecting student athletes’ rights nationwide.”

“Today’s action to expedite the Fair Pay to Play Act into law effective Sept. 1, 2021 is proof that our political system is an important one for undoing the vestige of slavery,” Sen. Bradford said. “There should be no place in our state where young, hardworking, and talented people are denied the fruits of their labor and are left struggling to purchase books, food, and have a place to sleep while others benefit from their talent and hard work. I am grateful to Gov. Newsom for his continued support on the issue of fair compensation for college athletes. Not only did the governor facilitate the end of the chattel system in college sports for California when he signed SB 206 in 2019, his actions in support of the bill that Sen. Skinner and I authored became the catalyst for change that has reverberated throughout the nation.”

SB 26 garnered overwhelming bipartisan support this year in the state Legislature, winning unanimous approval in the state Senate on a 36-0 vote and passing the Assembly unanimously in a vote of 73-0.

“The biggest winners today are the college athletes who will now have control over their own financial futures,” said Sen. Wilk, who also co-authored SB 206.

SB 26 also strengthens the Fair Pay to Play Act by allowing college athletes to earn money from their “athletic reputation.” The concept of athletic reputation has been adopted by other states and embraced by the NCAA, and it ensures a college athlete can identify in ads and endorsements what school they attend. In addition, SB 26 also adds California Community Colleges to the Fair Pay to Play Act.

The immediate implementation of the Fair Pay to Play Act also clears up any confusion that California schools and students might have about NIL rights as all California colleges will have to conform to state law. Earlier this summer, the NCAA released a decision allowing NIL rights but specifying that colleges and universities in states without an NIL law could essentially create their own rules. The signing of SB 26 also ensures that all California colleges and student athletes will compete on a level playing field.