Just a few weeks ago, the Senate for the state of California approved an important sports betting bill that could have huge implications for the entire legal sports betting industry. The bill in question is SB 206, the Fair Pay to Play act that concerns collegiate level sports.
Compensation for college athletes has always been a topic for hot conversation. The main problem with this is that offering financial incentive for student players can unfairly influence recruits to sign with schools that have the most resources.
There have already been several scandals this year in which a player received some sort of financial payoff to play for a team, most notably in March when James Gatto, Christian Dawkins, and Merl Code were sentenced for their conviction of paying families to send players to Kansas, Louisville, and North Carolina State.
This shows that schools that can offer some form of incentive, whether it is legal or not, will sometimes still try and do so to entice players to sign. While the notion of compensating players to sign with a specific school might not seem malicious at first, it does become very problematic when you realize that the NCAA brings in more than $1 billion in revenue from college sports.
That number is huge and none of it goes to the very players that dedicate their own time, mind, and bodies to playing the sports that generate so much revenue. At least, that was the case until SB 206 saw momentum in California.
As the name Fair Pay to Play suggests, the bill is focused on allowing college players to receive compensation for revenue they’re directly linked to generating. This means that anytime their picture, name, or anything else directly related to them is used for advertising and promotional purposes.
Under the language in the bill, players would also be allowed to hire an agent to represent them. This would allow players additional opportunities to sign actual endorsement deals and other sponsorship opportunities. While this doesn’t mean they’ll get a salaried paycheck for playing in games, it does allow for external forms of compensation that can help make a school situation more reasonable. More importantly, any money an athlete earns during his time at college would be put into a trust fund that can be accessed once the player leaves the school.
While the NCAA has some opposition to the bill, the California Senate didn’t. They voted to approve the bill by a tally of 31-5, and now awaits further action by the General Assembly of California. The bill was mostly supported by Democrats, which is important considering the General Assembly has a Democratic majority. This makes SB 206 very likely to pass later this year.
Even though SB 206 would only affect California, it would certainly set a precedent for other states to follow suit. The college recruiting industry is a whole game in itself, and if a single state has a clear advantage over others by allowing legal compensation, it will heavily shift recruitment towards California. Why would a star athlete play in another state when they can legally receive compensation from a school in California?
With the implication the Fair Pay to Play act has on the college recruiting industry, there is no way the NCAA would allow the bill to pass without taking any action. They are likely to contest the bill in court, although they could move towards making the language in SB 206 applicable to all schools linked to the NCAA. The first option is more likely, but the second would be much more beneficial to college sports as a whole.
If SB 206 does pass and continues to apply only to California, then this will also have a big shakeup on the legal sports betting industry. With so many athletes with huge profiles playing in California, this makes games much more worth of being bet on. Not only that, but there will be several more opportunities to offer proposition bets. All of this would make college games involving California schools much more popular betting events.
While SB 206 isn’t fully legalized yet, there is a great chance that it will be passed later this year. Compensation for college athletes has been a controversial topic for several years now, and this seems to be a reasonable step in the right direction. It will have a massive impact on college recruiting though, so don’t expect the NCAA to stay quiet about it.