Florida and NY push bills to compete with California's NCAA 'pay to play' law

Key Points
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law which allows student-athletes to earn endorsements.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that he'll back similar legislation in his state.
  • New York state Sen. Kevin S. Parker proposed a bill that calls for the NCAA to put aside 15% of all college sports-related revenue for student-athletes.
Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis speaks during a debate in Tampa, Florida, October 21, 2018. 
Chris O'Meara | Pool | Reuters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threw his support Thursday behind two bills allowing college 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 Athletic Association and has touched 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 in prohibiting the NCAA from retaliating against collegiate athletes who make money outside their schools.

"Other people make a lot of money using their name, image and likeness but they under current NCAA rules are not permitted to do that," DeSantis told reporters Thursday, according to the Florida publication the Tallahassee Democrat. "When I look to see good policy ideas, California usually is not the first place I look, 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 California 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 student athletes.

"I think providing real income for student-athletes was really going for it," he said of the "New York collegiate athletic participation compensation act."

California's Fair Pay To Play Act prevents the NCAA from punishing schools that allow paid student athletes 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 the 15% will go into a health and savings account, which is designed to assist athletes should they 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 own 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, and 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," he said.