The California State Assembly has unanimously passed Senate Bill 206, formerly known as the Fair Pay To Play Act, prior to the scheduled end of the California legislative session on Friday, September 13th. The bill would allow California college student-athletes to earn compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness without affecting the student-athlete’s scholarship eligibility.

Since the bill was amended by the Assembly to restrict a student-athlete from entering into shoe and apparel contracts that conflict with current university agreements, it must be returned to the California State Senate for an additional concurrence vote. In what is viewed as a formality, since the bill’s amendments do not impact the original bill’s basic premise of protecting California student-athletes right to personally market their name, image and likeness, it is anticipated that the State Senate will offer similar support to its original 31-5 vote when they consider the proposed legislation for a second time. The vote may take place as soon as later today, Tuesday, September 10th.

Assuming the Senate supports the bill in a similar fashion,

the legislation will be forwarded to California Governor Gavin Newsom for his execution.

He will have thirty (30) days to consider signing the legislation or to exercise his veto authority. He also has the option to ignore the legislation and take no action, which would allow the bill to become law. It is anticipated that Governor Newsom will be subject to strong efforts by the NCAA, California public and private universities and athletic conference leaders to veto the bill in its current form.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has already lobbied the chairs of two Assembly Committees via letter in June to delay consideration of the legislation and allow the NCAA’s current working group, led by Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman, to present potential changes to the NCAA’s current legislation regarding the ability of student-athletes to market their name, image and likeness.

It is anticipated that those proposals will be forthcoming in a formal report to the NCAA’s Board of Governors in October.

In his letters, President Emmert cautioned the California legislature that if the bill becomes law the NCAA would strongly consider prohibiting California schools from participating in NCAA Championship competition.

If the bill becomes law, the NCAA must decide if it intends to move forward with President Emmert’s potential ban of California schools for complying with California state law and risk the anticipated legal reaction to such a decision or accept the California law and make modest changes to current NCAA regulations. With a delayed effective date of January 1, 2023 for the California law, the proposal arising from the NCAA’s current working group will be of great interest and importance to this crucial issue and should provide sufficient time for the NCAA’s voluntary, non-litigious response to this potential new California law.

Jackson Lewis’ Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group will continue to monitor this proposed legislation as it is presented to Governor Newsom for his consideration and signature. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group with questions.

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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.