Newsletter: The changing economy of college sports

UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Oct. 1, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

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College sports is a multibillion-dollar industry, where the only group of people who haven’t been able to cash in are the student-athletes who make it all possible.

Now, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill into law that will allow college athletes to make money from endorsements, potentially upending the unequal equation of college sports. The bill was vociferously opposed by the NCAA, which warned Newsom that passing it would be “unconstitutional.” The NCAA will be prohibited from barring a university from competition if its athletes are compensated for the use of their name, image or likeness beginning Jan. 1, 2023, when the law goes into effect in California.


The landmark law is the first of its kind in the nation, but it will probably have ripple effects. Lawmakers in New York and South Carolina have already proposed similar legislation, and a Florida lawmaker just announced plans to do so as well.

As state government reporter Melody Gutierrez and sports reporter Nathan Fenno write in their story, Newsom said university presidents and athletic boosters contacted him and urged him to veto the bill but that he felt strongly the state needed to address the racial, gender and economic injustices ingrained in college athletics.

[Read the story: “California will allow college athletes to profit from endorsements under bill signed by Newsom” in the Los Angeles Times]

“This is a game changer for student athletes and for equity in sports,” said LeBron James, who has been a vocal supporter of the bill, said. Newsom signed the bill alongside James during an episode of “The Shop,” a show produced by James’ digital media company.

The NCAA said in a statement Monday that it planned to “consider next steps in California.” In the meantime, here are some key questions and answers about the law.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:



The FDA tried to ban flavored e-cigarettes years before the vaping outbreak. If the ban had gone through, the kid-friendly vaping liquids would have been pushed off store shelves. Instead, over the course of 46 days, a deluge of more than 100 tobacco industry lobbyists and small-business advocates met with White House officials as they weighed whether to include the ban as part of a new tobacco control rule. The end result: Senior Obama administration officials nixed the ban and much of the evidence supporting it, according to documents reviewed by The Times. Los Angeles Times

Forever 21 Inc. joined the ever-growing numbers of apparel retailers that have filed for bankruptcy — a list from which few clothiers have bounced back. The Los Angeles-based company fell victim to a combination of slower mall traffic, dissatisfaction with its clothes, its own over-expansion and the ongoing consumer shift to online shopping, all of which created a cash crunch that forced the firm to file for Chapter 11. Los Angeles Times


Vidiots, when it was in Santa Monica.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Vidiots is officially on its way back. The beloved video store-turned-film nonprofit organization is set to relaunch in L.A.’s Eagle Rock neighborhood in fall 2020. Deadline

For brash deal-maker Ari Emanuel, Endeavor’s IPO collapse is a rare stumble, and his biggest challenge yet. Los Angeles Times

In Migrant’s Bend Plaza in downtown Los Angeles, a new statue honors braceros, the Mexican nationals who temporarily migrated to the U.S. to help fill labor shortages during and after World War II. Los Angeles Times

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Thousands of Mexican migrants seeking asylum in the United States are waiting at border crossings as a result of the Trump administration’s recent crackdown, despite concerns for their safety in their home country, migrants and advocates say. Los Angeles Times


Sen. Kamala Harris opened an Oakland campaign office Sunday — her first California campaign office — even as poll numbers show her trailing badly in her home state. San Francisco Chronicle

These California politicians once helped regulate legal marijuana. Now they’re working for the industry. Los Angeles Times

Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel has been investing heavily in conservative Midwest politicians. Kansas City Star

“What to wear when you’re impeaching the president.” Pink pantsuit, chunky necklaces, and the obligatory flag pin: Here’s how Democratic lawmakers are suiting up for a long and dramatic process. Daily Beast


A San Francisco tour guide led a secret life as a Chinese spy, prosecutors say. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the charges. Sacramento Bee


The much-disputed boulders intended to thwart tents in a San Francisco neighborhood have been trucked away. But they may be replaced by bigger, harder-to-move rocks. San Francisco Chronicle

A Sikh women’s association in Bakersfield created a hotline to connect members of the Sikh and Punjabi-speaking community to resources. Bakersfield Californian

On NextDoor, the homeless are the enemy. The platform built for neighborhood news often scapegoats the most disadvantaged communities. OneZero

“San Marin is a community, not a battlefield.” The fight over athletic field lights at a Novato high school has turned dirty, with “incidents of bullying” and attacks on social media. Marin Independent Journal

WeWork shelved its plans for an IPO on Monday. The move marks a stark retreat for the company whose CEO resigned last week. Bloomberg

Inside the new Uber: The fancy Stumptown selection has given way to regular old Starbucks beans in company coffee dispensers (amid other vanishing perks) and morale is plummeting. A look at how Uber is changing as it shifts from closely held unicorn start-up to a publicly traded company whose stock price has fallen roughly 30% since going public in May. Washington Post

Animal rights activists erected a 15-foot-tall cutout of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ head above a Whole Foods in San Francisco. There was a speech bubble attached that said “I profit from criminal animal cruelty.” SF Gate

A mayoral candidate in Boise, Idaho, wants to protect his city from an exodus of Californians. Mercury News


Los Angeles: sunny, 77. San Diego: sunny, 72. San Francisco: sunny, 67. San Jose: sunny, 72. Sacramento: sunny, 75. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Julie Chelette-O’Neil:

“When I was 6 years old, my parents took me on a trip to visit my older sister at UC Berkeley. We stopped along Pacific Coast Highway at a beach in Monterey. It was a cool and foggy day, and it was there I saw the ocean for the first time. My mother and father walked me to the surf and I remember vividly the soft sand and the cold water on my toes. I fussed and cried when it was time to go, and my parents collected a bucket of sand and a few shells to calm me. I still have that little blue bucket.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.