Opinion: What’s So Important About the California Student-Athlete Bill?


Kylie Ha, Staff Writer

The NCAA’s key argument for not compensating student-athletes is that doing so would take away their focus on academics, stating, “In the collegiate model of sports, the young men and women competing on the field or court are students first, athletes second.” 

On September 30, 2019, the Student Athlete Bill of Rights, also stated as SB206, was passed, and will come into effect on January 1, 2023. 

In 2017, after the discovery of a bribery scheme in the complex network of college basketball recruitment, a California student-athlete state bill passed the state legislature which has now been passed that would allow student-athletes to profit off their names, image, and likeliness. This gives them a higher chance to pursue endorsement deals and earn money from autographs or clinics, but why does this matter?

Although the full responsibility lies on the NCAA to fairly pay their athletes, this bill creates a building block and puts pressure on the organization. Despite what NCAA pushes for, the reality at elite schools is more than the opposite. In 2016, more than 20 schools were being investigated for academic fraud. This was due to the fact that universities highly encouraged their athletes to neglect academic performance to devote themselves to their athletic careers. 

However, there are many arguments the NCAA makes to defend their stance. Tim Tebow stated his take on ESPN’s First Take, arguing that paying athletes would take away the “authenticity and the realness and the passion.” Recent FBI investigations and reports that stemmed from the basketball recruitment fraud reveal that this anything but the truth for coaches, schools, and companies. 

Another claim the NCAA makes is that it is maintaining the purity of the sport, which many world-class athletes disprove. Lebron James, one of the richest athletes in the world, created the I Promise School for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and has a deep connection to his community. The organization either forgets or ignores the fact that many college athletes need money to support their families and themselves. Former University of Connecticut basketball star Shabazz Napier said that he would often go to bed hungry because he didn’t have enough money for dinner. This jersey was being sold, and Napier received none of the profits. 

Unlike what a majority of the public believes, Tebow stated that there was an “opportunity to [make money] in the NFL.” However, for those aspiring to play football professionally, only 1.6% of college football players make it on a professional level, and even fewer manage to make it their career. This is the same for many sports. 

Although California is the only state to pass this sort of bill, this has a positive development because it encourages other states to pass similar bills. Not only does this bring the light to lower-profile athletes, but the focus also turns to giving the pay to the major-revenue bringing sports like college football and basketball. By allowing student-athletes to make their own money off of their success, this is a step toward fixing the broken industry of college sports. 

Photo courtesy of FOXBUSINESS.COM