NCAA prez lobbies to delay vote on 'Fair Pay' act

NCAA president Mark Emmert recently lobbied two California State Assembly committees to postpone a bill that would allow college athletes to profit off of their names, images and likenesses (NIL). The bill, voted out of the committee Tuesday with five in favor, one not voting and one absent, would be implemented in 2023 if passed.

"I recognize that there is a stakeholder group that the NCAA has put together to come up with findings and recommendations," committee chair Kansen Chu said. "The bill that was passed out of my committee today, which I supported with recent amendments, acknowledges the current NCAA efforts while setting the expectation that the process will be fruitful with meaningful outcomes."

Emmert sent a letter to the chairs of the arts, entertainment, sports, tourism and internet media committee and the committee on higher education asking that they postpone their vote while the NCAA reviews its own rules.

"When contrasted with current NCAA rules," Emmert said in the letter, "as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships."

Senate Bill 206, named the Fair Pay to Play Act, would allow California collegiate athletes to earn compensation from their own likenesses. It will now move on to the higher education committee, which would need to pass it by July 11 for the bill to continue on.

"We humbly ask that the California legislature provide NCAA member schools the time and opportunity to thoroughly assess issues surrounding student-athlete name, image, and likeness, including potential unintended consequences that might arise if SB 206 is passed as written," Emmert wrote.

Emmert noted that the NCAA announced a working group earlier in 2019 that will assess the potential of allowing players to profit off of their likeness throughout the NCAA, but believes one state changing the rules before the entire association and its members follow suit could create chaos and an unfair playing field for schools outside the state of California.

"Like you, the NCAA is committed to providing a fair, inclusive and fulfilling environment for our student-athletes and we recognize that reforms often are necessary to improve the student-athlete experience," Emmert wrote. "We have recently enhanced medical and mental health care, addressed gaps in student-athlete financial aid and addressed the time demands of our student-athletes. However, addressing NIL must be developed and implemented in a manner that maintains the clear demarcation between professional and college sports and ensures that education remains the cornerstone of college sports and the student-athlete experience."