The dominoes began to fall back on October 5, 2019 when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act.
Wednesday marked the latest ripple effect of the ground-breaking legislation that could allow college athletes to profit financially off of their name, image and likeness.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made Michigan one of the first states to follow California’s lead Wednesday when she signed two bills that paved the way for collegiate athletes in Michigan to be paid. House Bills 5217 and 5218 become effective in 2023.
This doesn’t mean that schools will be paying athletes to play for them, rather athletes can hire agents to help them seek endorsement deals and sponsorships on their own — such as TV commercials, radio ads, autograph signings or shoe deals.
“As one of the first states in the nation to pass this historic legislation, I am proud to sign this bipartisan legislation today on behalf of our current and future student athletes,” Whitmer said in a press release. “I am hopeful that the NCAA will set a national standard so that all players across the country are afforded the same opportunities.”
Back when California made the choice to move forward with the contentious legislation, the writing was on the wall that many other states would follow and put pressure on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to consider changing its rules on amateurism. Whitmer made it a point that Wednesday’s approval was made to help set a precedent for other states to follow suit and specifically called on the NCAA to set a national standard.
As I said in 2019, this is a good thing for all involved. College athletes have long been exploited not just by their respective universities but companies and people from all over the world. EA Sports profited off of over 20 annually released video games with college athletes as the cover photo and the sole characters in the game and no athlete saw a dime. If this legislation went nationwide we could possibly get those type of things while everyone involved benefits from it.
HB 5217 prohibits post-secondary schools from enforcing rules that would take away scholarships or amateur status because a player profited off of their own likeness. HB 5218 will allow student athletes to retain an agent while still in school and took away the civil liability of the athlete should any improper benefits received harm the school or its reputation.
Students will be able to enter into apparel contracts and have shoe deals, as long as it does not conflict with the apparel contracts of their school and they notify the school before they sign.
It’s about time that the athletes get their fair share, even if it isn’t coming directly from the universities. Let’s just hope the dominoes continue to topple.