During the 2016-17 academic year, the NCAA reached a revenue of over $1 billion dollars for the first time. A large majority of this money came from college basketball’s “March Madness” tournament. However, the athletes-- whose images are on billboards in college towns, playable characters in NCAA video games, and the like-- don’t see a dime of that money. Instead, the NCAA argues that the value of the “free” college education the athletes are given in exchange for competing for their schools is equivalent. (Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/ncaa-college-athletes-march-madness-basketball-football-sports-not-paid-2019-3)
A federal judge in the Ninth Circuit has disagreed, first in her decision in O’Bannon v. NCAA in 2014 (which the Supreme Court denied to hear in 2016), and then in a similar case earlier this year.
A recent California bill goes even further. California Senate Bill 206, which regards “student athlete compensation and representation,” was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom last week. This bill would allow for student athletes in California to be compensated if someone wants to use their name, likeness, or image. This means that the student athletes could be paid to promote products or companies or profit off of Youtube channels.
It’s likely that this bill could cause many (or even all) other states to go the same route, as if not, it seems that top athletes would flock to California schools so that they can rake in some share of those sweet NCAA billions.
The California law will not go into effect until 2023, so stay tuned. Check out this New York Times article for even more details.
Submitted by Emma E Babler on November 5, 2019
This article appears in the categories: Law Library