The right way to pay college athletes

Austin Lane, Senior Sports Reporter

Senate Bill No. 206, otherwise known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, allows student athletes to receive compensation for their name, likeness and image. The bill was passed this year, with California Gov. Gavin Newsom officially signing it into law on Sept. 30. The bill essentially bars the NCAA from retaliating against players for making money based on their athletic abilities. The provisions are set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. 

In response to the bill being passed in California, U.S. Representative and former wide receiver for The Ohio State University, Anthony Gonzales (R., Ohio) has introduced the idea of a national bill that would allow college athletes the chance to obtain revenue for endorsements. 

CWU student athletes would benefit from this concept. Despite being a Division II program, CWU Football is a big part of the community. With the passing of a national bill allowing all college athletes the right to make money based on their name, likeness and image, CWU Football players would jump on the opportunity if presented. Say, for example, Winegar’s wants to name an extreme bull after Wildcat running back Michael Roots. Winegar’s could offer Roots a stipend for naming the drink after him. The NCAA would no longer have the power to punish Roots for accepting the stipend.

This bill directly goes against the NCAA and their rules that intend to keep amateurism in college athletics. On a larger scale, the NCAA made around $900 million in revenue off of March Madness. The NCAA reports that about 96% of the money flows out into the Division I membership, leaving them with about $36 million. College basketball players, who are the biggest factor of the revenue, get none of the money. Now, if this bill stands the test of time (and the NCAA fighting back), the basketball players could make money. The athletes could sign deals with multiple companies looking to get exposure during one of the most popularly televised sporting events every year. 

Problems arise with the potential passing of a national bill as well. Recruiting becomes an issue when coaches, boosters and agents do everything in their power to sway players in their favor to attend a certain school. These individuals could persuade players to attend their schools based on how much local endorsement money opportunities there are for the player. For example, a high school quarterback that is in the process of choosing what school to attend in Washington state could choose the University of Washington (UW) over CWU based on the fact that UW let him know of a potential commercial shoot that would net him over $5,000. The player would feel more inclined to attend UW as opposed to CWU because, well, who wouldn’t follow the money?

The California bill should act as a trial run before other states, or even the country as a whole, adopts similar policies. Let’s find out what happens when players have the opportunity to make money based on their name, likeness and image first. Then, if all goes well, pass a bill nationally to allow students the option to open this financial door. But if the other side of the door is a room full of money, greed and corruption, let’s close that door and lock it shut.