Florida and New York Push Bills to Compete with California’s NCAA ‘Pay to Play’

Carter Landeros, Writer

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threw his support behind two bills allowing collegiate athletes to make money from endorsement deals, joining New York in pushing for quick legislation responding to California’s new “Fair Pay to Play Law.” California’s new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 30 threatens to upend the National Collegiate Association and has started off a race by states to adopt similar changes so they don’t lose top sports talent to the West Coast. Florida’s proposal mirrors California’s new law by prohibiting the NCAA from retaliating against collegiate athletes who make money outside their school. “Other people make lots of money using their name, image and likeness but they under NCAA rules are not permitted to do that,” DeSantis told reporters Thursday, according to the Florida publication on the Tallahassee Democrat. “When I look to see good policy ideas, California usually is not the first place I look to but I think California is on the right track.” 

New York State Sen. Kevin S. Parker introduced his own legislation earlier this month. While it’s also aimed at keeping California from siphoning off the state’s best collegiate athletes, it takes a different approach. Parker said he thought the new law that was signed last month “did something really great. But you know with New York you have to go big or go home. We had to punch it up a little and really go for it.” His legislation would require all NCAA schools in New York to set aside 15% of their revenue from athletic ticket sales and divide it among all student athletes. California’s Fair Pay to Play Act prevents the NCAA from punishing schools that allow paid student athletes to participate in sports. The legislation, which takes effect in 2023, sets some parameters around the endorsement deals. It prohibits players from signing contracts that conflict with other university sponsorships. Parker’s bill also calls for a financial education and a portion of the school’s sports revenue to be set aside for wages while the other half of 15% will go into a health and savings account,which is designed to assist athletes if they were to suffer severe injuries while participating in the NCAA events. The state senator believes this aspect of the legislation is “a game-changer.” The NCAA has already established a working group led by Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith to look at the California law. Former NBA player and sportscaster Len Elmore said as many as 20 other states, including New York, are already beginning to study how to establish their proposals to allow student athletes to earn money while playing. Elmore, speaking at a sports business conference at Columbia University on Friday, said some states hope to get a jump start on California by having their competing laws in place as early as next year. That would create chaos in collegiate sports, Elmore said and could threaten the future of the NCAA.

“I see, essentially the demise of the NCAA if this continues without any type of uniformity,” he said. Currently there are 58 NCAA schools in California, and once the law goes into effect, student athletes will be able to accept deals and have agents represent them. The student athletes “are getting a $100,000 education then the university is getting tens of millions of dollars, and the NCAA is getting billions of dollars. Check my math, but that doesn’t sound fair to me,” Parker said. “This is about economic equity, and I do think that student athletes have the right to profit off their own name, image, and likeness.”