SPECIAL REPORT: Fair Pay to Play Act, Paying College Athletes.


Logo sign outside of the headquarters of the NCAA.

David Henshaw, Sports Editor

What is the Fair Pay to Play Act?

Senate Bill 206 or what it’s commonly known as, The Fair Pay to Play Act (FPPA) is essentially a bill introduced in state legislations that allows college athletes to be paid while they play the game and are enrolled in the college they play for, the colleges themselves would not be paying the athletes, however brands can pay student-athletes for their names and likeness, making them open to early-career sponsorship deals.

Where did any of this even come from? There have been multiple occurrences of great high school athletes being denied from college because they did not have the money for tuition and some of those who are in college, financially cripple themselves because they must stay fully dedicated to the team and can’t get jobs during their offseasons. But, the biggest story was during this year’s NFL Draft, an Ole Miss athlete could not afford the price of the dorms and had to sleep in his car and run to the practice field every morning,  a story so heartbreaking for fans of the game, the player would later be signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted Wide Receiver. The athlete was Floyd Allen, a football player who overcame financial adversity to become an NFL wide receiver.

The NCAA has been heavily criticized for financially ruining their student-athletes and preventing them from going pro, in some cases that is a valid accusation, according to the NCAA, only 2% of all athletes achieve their dreams of going pro, should the 98% that doesn’t go pro blame the NCAA? no, athletes do possess some responsibility, their grades could flunk, they could just not get noticed by scouts, or for some, they could just be an athlete for the social gain and have no dreams of going pro.

When it was first introduced in the California State Assembly with a unanimous 73-0 vote to approve it. The governor of California, Gavin Newsom signed it into law for the state. After the California vote, three new states had legislations propose this new law, one of those states even proposed to make it a federal law, which would mean that all fifty states and the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) would have to recognize the bill as a law.

After that, the NCAA condemned this new law saying it was “unconstitutional” and that it would, “provide the colleges of California unfair recruitment opportunities.” The NCAA then went on to say that if this law was to go into effect then all California teams would be excluded from competitions (Bowls, March Madness, etc.) and would be ultimately barred from the NCAA.

The NCAA would then have a change of heart, now allowing college athletes to get paid for likeness and names. This new NCAA policy might’ve just accelerated the due date for the new law to go into effect by January 1st, 2023. During that time the College Football Playoff teams would be playing in the semifinal before advancing to the National Championship.

What does this mean for college bound athletes for the 2020 season? It actually means the college athletes of 2020-2022 seasons still are not allowed to accept any sponsorship deals for personal profit. However, after that, any athlete that does not get that full-ride to college through varsity letters and athletic scholarships, they can pay off their potential college debts through the profits from sponsorship deals and increase college athletic recruitment and more athletes with the potential to go pro. There is however, an unfortunate side to this story, the companies have to offer the sponsorship deals and athletes that don’t grab headlines most likely will not get sponsorship deals. 

But that is a ways away, for right now, the NCAA has two years to create a task force to protect players’ rights to their names and likeness, and afterwards it might just bring back the NCAA video game franchise for gamers and better college athletes and games for the sports fans. There are many stories that reveal the financial hardship that everyday student-athletes have to overcome to finally achieve their dream of going pro and this new law will help them achieve that.