Lawmaker expects California athletes to cash in on NIL by Sept. 1

UCLA basketball players celebrate their win over BYU after a first-round game in the NCAA college basketball.
UCLA basketball players celebrate after defeating Brigham Young in the NCAA tournament on March 20.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

College athletes in California who are hoping to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness have a new date they can circle on their calendars:

Sept. 1, 2021.

Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who authored the historic Fair Pay to Play Act, which carried with it an effective date of Jan. 1, 2023, has introduced a fresh bill to speed up the start of college sports’ new era in California. She told The Times on Tuesday that if all goes according to plan moving Senate Bill 26 through the state Legislature, it should reach the hands of Gov. Gavin Newsom by August — just in time for athletes to begin cashing in Sept. 1.

In fall 2019, California became the first state to pass a law prohibiting college athletes from being punished for using their NIL rights in endorsement deals, social media influencing and the like. But since then, dozens of other states have followed with their own legislation. At least six are scheduled to go into effect July 1, leaving California college athletes behind and potentially putting California schools at a competitive disadvantage.

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“The result of all these other states joining our bandwagon is that California colleges could be at a disadvantage,” Skinner said, “and our own student-athletes wouldn’t be able to enjoy the rights we want to give them until years after other states. So Sen. [Steven] Bradford [D-Gardena] and I decided we’d better fix that.”

The NCAA Division I Council could vote on changes to NIL rules before Sept. 1. In that case, California college athletes’ NIL use would be governed by the association’s rule book. Once SB 26 would theoretically go into effect, though, the state law would take precedence.

Sen. Nancy Skinner
Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) has introduced a bill to move up the date for when California college athletes can cash in on their NIL.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

The Sept. 1 date is important because it would guarantee that — even if the NCAA continues to delay voting on NIL into the fall — athletes in other states would only have a two-month head start enjoying their foray into the NIL marketplace.

After Monday’s Supreme Court opinion ruling unanimously in favor of athletes in NCAA vs. Alston, the pressure will mount on the NCAA to produce a less restrictive proposal for policing NIL payments.

The NCAA is still hoping for a one-size-fits-all federal solution from Congress to eliminate the confusion of state laws differing from coast to coast, but reports out of Washington, D.C., indicate a bipartisan NIL bill becoming law before the August recess is unlikely.


For now, the states have the power. Skinner said that SB 26 is an urgency bill, which means it will only pass with two-thirds of the vote and go into effect immediately rather than waiting for a typical Jan. 1 start date.

“The first Assembly committee heard it [Monday] and passed it,” Skinner said. “So far, we’re doing great, and I expect that to continue.”