Friday, October 4, 2019

If California Really Cares About Student Athletes, It’ll Protect Their Rights To Their Own Identities

By Professor Jennifer Rothman

This op-ed originally appeared in the Friday, October 4, 2019 edition of  the San Francisco Chronicle.

Gov. Gavin Newsom just signed a bill ostensibly to level the playing field for student athletes. Within 24 hours, five other states had introduced similar bills. In the U.S. House of Representatives, a Student-Athlete Equity Act was introduced just a few weeks ago.

These legislative efforts seek to address the stark reality that the NCAA and college athletic programs reap billions of dollars from ticket and merchandise sales and licensing deals, while student athletes get nothing other than some limited scholarship money. Not only does this seem unfair, but the current system pressures the most talented young athletes to go professional early, often foregoing their educations in the process.

California’s law (and others proposed) bars NCAA universities (who fall within the provision) and are located within the state from penalizing student athletes who sign endorsement deals or with sports agents and attorneys. This is new. But it does not address the underlying exploitation of student athletes.

The law does nothing to require the NCAA or universities to share any profits with athletes — and most college athletes will not be sought after by Nike for a major endorsement deal. The California law also could allow the NCAA to continue to block endorsement opportunities that primarily stem from an association with the “team.”

Read the complete op-ed>>