California’s ground-breaking decision to allow college athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsements was met with a swelling of approval, including by NBA stars LeBron James and Draymond Green.
But the Pac-12 issued a statement Monday in which the conference admitted it is “disappointed” in the passage of SB 206, which could drastically change the landscape of amateur sports. The conference, which has four institutions in the Golden State (USC, UCLA, Stanford and California), is concerned about “very significant negative consequences” from the bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law that will allow California college athletes to financially profit from their images, names or likenesses, as The Associated Press reported.
“The Pac-12 is disappointed in the passage of SB 206 and believes it will have very significant negative consequences for our student-athletes and broader universities in California. This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports and many unintended consequences related to this professionalism, imposes a state law that conflicts with national rules, will blur the lines for how California universities recruit student-athletes and compete nationally, and will likely reduce resources and opportunities for student-athletes in Olympic sports and have a negative disparate impact on female student-athletes.
“Our universities have led important student-athlete reform over the past years, but firmly believe all reforms must treat our student-athletes as students pursuing an education, and not as professional athletes. We will work with our universities to determine next steps and ensure continuing support for our student-athletes.”
Newsom believes other states will follow suit, and the AP reported that two lawmakers in South Carolina have announced such plans to introduce similar legislation for their state.
California’s law takes effect in 2023. Students at public and private universities in the state will be allowed to sign deals with sneaker companies, soft drink makers or other advertisers and profit from their images, names or likenesses, just like the pros, according to The Associated Press.
“It’s going to change college sports for the better by having now the interest, finally, of the athletes on par with the interests of the institutions,” Newsom said in a tweeted video. “Now we’re rebalancing that power arrangement.”
There are some exceptions. The law does not include community college students and athletes are not allowed to accept endorsements that conflict with their schools’ contracts.