by Ben Jansen
LeBron James may not have played college basketball, but he will forever be attached to a piece of college athletics history. On the most recent episode of James’ talk show “The Shop”, California Governor Gavin Newsome signed the “Fair Pay to Play” Act into law, allowing NCAA athletes to profit off of their name, image, and likeness.
While it was a controversial decision for the governor a large number of athletes, fans, and other politicians expressed their pleasure with the passing of the bill. LeBron James was one of the biggest supporters of the bill and said the passage of the bill was personal to him
“Coming from the area I’m from, me and my mom we didn’t have anything,” James said. “We wouldn’t have been able to benefit at all from a college selling a No. 23 jersey, selling out the arena for my games and being in the NCAA basketball video game. And the university would have been able to capitalize on everything that I would’ve been there for that year or two or whatever. I understand what those kids are going through. I feel for those kids who’ve been going through it for so long, so that’s why it was personal to me.”
However, athletes are not the only ones who agree with passing the bill. Lawmakers from states across America have begun working on similar bills to propose and pass in their own states. While the process of the bill being created has started in some states, Florida has already worked to pass the bill.
Representative Kionne McGhee filed a bill on Monday, Sept. 30, with the intention of preventing the NCAA from blocking student-athletes from receiving compensation. According to the HB 251 website, the bill, “Authorizes students participating in intercollegiate athletics to receive specified compensation; provides requirements for specified students, postsecondary educational institutions, certain organizations, & specified representatives; & creates Florida College System Athlete Name, Image, & Likeness Task Force.”
While this bill is quite similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act that has been passed in California, there is one major difference between the two. McGhee’s bill would go into effect on June 1, 2020 rather waiting until 2023 like the California bill. This bill being passed could lead to even more states passing similar laws, as Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina beginning legislature on similar bills already.
With this bill potentially being passed so soon, their could be drastic ramifications for NCAA sports very soon. The NCAA has already sent a letter to California threatening to ban all of the state’s NCAA teams from competition. If they are so against these laws, one will likely be sent to Florida.
This could change the way we consume college athletics immediately. Right now the state of Florida has teams ranked in the top 25 for basically every NCAA sport at every level of the NCAA. Banning all those teams from competition would cause a massive change in rankings, scheduling and the sports as a whole.
For example, right now The University of Tampa Baseball team is the reigning NCAA Division II champions. But if this bill passes, one year from today the Spartans could potentially not be a part of the NCAA. Other teams like the University of Florida, Florida State, and the University of Miami, staples of NCAA athletics, would suddenly have no ties to the organization.
When it comes down to it, the NCAA has to face the fact that these laws are changing, and it is time for the NCAA to modernize and allow players to profit off themselves. If they don’t it could change the NCAA and college sports as we know it.
Ben Jansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org