California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a first-of-its-kind law that will allow student athletes to hire agents and negotiate payments for the use of their name, image and likeness.
The bill, known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, was strongly opposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which regulates all U.S. college student athletes.
The organization had argued the bill "would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics'' and would "negatively impact more than 24,000 California student-athletes across three divisions.''
While college athletes are often offered extremely lucrative scholarships, the NCAA does not allow them to be paid. The organization says it is studying the issue of paying student athletes and if the policy is to change, it wants the change to happen on a national scale.
Newsom and the bill's supporters argue that it will, in fact, bring fairness to big-money college athletics.
"Other college students with a talent, whether it be literature, music, or technological innovation, can monetize their skill and hard work,'' Newsom said Monday. "Student athletes, however, are prohibited from being compensated while their respective colleges and universities make millions, often at great risk to athletes' health, academics and professional careers."
Newsom signed the bill on the HBO TV show hosted by Los Angeles Lakers basketball star LeBron James, who had supported the bill. James tweeted that the signing was a momentous occasion.
The bill, which will undoubtedly face legal challenges, will not go into effect until 2023.