California Makes Bid to Get All the Good Football Players

We're number one! That is . . . we will be if SB-206 passes.Jordon Kelly/Icon SMI via ZUMA

Here’s the latest from the leaders of the resistance:

The Fair Pay to Play Act, approved by the state Senate in May, now moves to the Higher Education Committee….NCAA rules bar athletes from being compensated for use of their names, images or likenesses. While the bill would not allow schools to directly pay athletes, athletes would be able to receive compensation from outside sources — for example, from a video game company or for signing autographs or memorabilia.

If this bill passes, it wouldn’t take effect until 2023: “That provides the NCAA time to make changes to its rules and California leeway to introduce future legislation if changes are needed to ensure schools are not penalized, said Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who co-authored the bill.”

That’s too bad. It would be great if it took effect immediately. Can you imagine? Pretty much every top football and basketball recruit in the country would suddenly head to California at light speed. Alabama and Ohio State and Clemson would find that not a single top high school player in the entire nation had any interest in playing for them.

This would leave the NCAA with three choices: (a) allow California schools to win everything, (b) expel all California schools, or (c) cave in. I hardly need to say that (a) would be totally unacceptable, so that leaves (b) and (c). Which would it be? A separate California league that was semi-pro and got all the good players, or caving in? The only real option is to cave in.

So why put it off? Just do it now and force the NCAA’s hand. I’m wishy-washy on the whole notion of paying college players, but I have no objection at all to college players being able to make money for themselves however they want. And the NCAA is such a fundamentally corrupt enterprise that I’m also in favor of doing anything possible to make their lives miserable. Just do it.


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.