California State Senators Nancy Skinner and Steven Bradford, the initial drafters of the historic California state legislation which granted student-athletes the legal right to seek remuneration for their name, image and likeness rights, plan to introduce new state legislation to bolster Senate Bill 206 (SB206).

Although the specific language of the new bill has yet to be introduced, Senator Skinner announced that the language in the new co-sponsored bill will be aimed at ensuring full protection for college athletes’ rights. It would also move up the effective implementation date of SB 206 to no later than January 1, 2022 or to an earlier date, which would coincide with the effective date of any NCAA NIL rule changes.

As a result, if the NCAA’s anticipated effective date for implementation of NIL rules remains August 1, 2021 following their anticipated January 2021 vote, the California law would also become effective on August 1, 2021.

SB 206 won unanimous bipartisan approval in the California legislature (112-0). It made California the first state to legislate the right of college student-athletes to earn compensation from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) when Senator Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law in September 2019. The law authorizes student-athletes to earn income from endorsement and sponsorship deals and further authorizes college athletes to operate a business or take jobs as a coach or instructor.

Of equal importance, the law also specifically prohibits California public postsecondary educational institutions, athletic associations, conferences, or any other organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics from affecting a student athlete’s scholarship or athletic eligibility to participate in college sports for earning compensation in connection with the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness.

Commenting on her new proposed legislation, Senator Skinner stated,

“It’s good that the NCAA has followed California’s lead, but their proposed rules changes come up short. The NCAA doesn’t appear willing to give student athletes the autonomy and full range of benefits that California law does. This new bill will ensure that California athletes are not unfairly and unnecessarily restricted.”

The bill’s co-sponsor Senator Bradford commented on the new bill as well, “preventing students from seeking compensation for their likeness while you profit off it yourself is akin to institutionalized slavery.”

While the NCAA has offered drastic changes with regard to student-athlete NIL rights, the current proposal does not provide the same extensive rights to student-athletes as the California law. Specifically, the NCAA’s current proposal provides schools individual discretion to prevent athletes from entering into endorsement agreements that are deemed to conflict with existing school sponsorship arrangements. While the California law does contain certain limitations, it does not empower each school to enact broad based rules automatically preventing student-athletes from entering into potentially conflicting agreements with school sponsorship deals.

In summary, the new legislation is expected to add several key elements to California’s existing law, including:

  • the move of California’s effective date for NIL rights;
  • the addition of the right to earn compensation from what is known as “athletic reputation,” which ensures that a student athlete could identify the name of their college or university in endorsements and advertisements received; and,
  • the addition of specific protections should the NCAA challenge SB 206 in court or if a California school denies college athletes their rights.

The new bill is also expected to include safeguards to ensure that college athletes are not denied the same basic rights afforded to all other college students, except when it comes to recruitment. This proposed change would also conflict with current NCAA bylaws and anticipated NCAA NIL rules.

Senator Skinner further commented, “The struggle for equality and fairness for student athletes has been underway for decades. California can be proud that SB 206 was the legal kickstart to that movement, prompting states across the country to finally say, ‘no,’ to the exploitation of college athletes,”

Senator Skinner concluded, “This new bill will ensure that California’s achievement is fully protected.”

Jackson Lewis’ Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group will continue to monitor this new proposed California legislation once it is formally introduced. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group with questions.

Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Gregg E. Clifton Gregg E. Clifton

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in…

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. Mr. Clifton has also worked extensively in the area of agent regulation and enforcement in professional and college sports and regularly provides counsel on issues relating to NCAA and NAIA amateurism issues and athlete eligibility questions. He has also served as an expert witness in matters involving sports agents’ work and responsibilities, as well as athlete compensation issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Team Sports for Gaylord Sports Management. He also served as President of the Athlete and Entertainment Division for famed sports attorney Bob Woolf’s firm, Woolf Associates, in Boston.

Mr. Clifton began his career as an Associate at Jackson Lewis where he focused his practice on traditional labor law. He continues to counsel clients in the areas of collective bargaining negotiations, representation cases, arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board matters.

Mr. Clifton frequently serves as an expert speaker to law schools, including Harvard University, Boston College, Hofstra University and Arizona State University, and bar associations regarding sports law issues, including agent regulation and salary arbitration. He is also often cited as an expert source in national news media for his commentary and opinion on legal issues in sports.