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NCAA threatens to ban California schools from postseason play due to “Fair Play” Act

A new bill in California that allows college student athletes to profit off their image and likeness being used could lead to the NCAA taking action

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

For years the image and likeness of student-athletes being used without them seeing compensation has been a hot debate with almost no resolution in sight. The last few months has seen progress towards that ending with the announcement of the NCAA exploring the possibility of compensating student-athletes for their likeness and images, however a recent report may have shown that they’re probably not as ready to make that jump as we thought.

A new bill named the Fair play to play Act, which will allow student athletes at universities in the state of California to profit off their images and likeness being used. The bill has been passed on to the higher education committee on Tuesday. SB 206 has to be voted on by July 11th in order for the bill to continue on. This has caught the attention of NCAA president Mark Emmert to the point where he sent letters to the chairs of the arts, entertainment, sports, tourism and internet media committee and higher learning committee to have the vote postponed and go as far as banning California schools from postseason play.

“When contrasted with current NCAA rules,” Emmert in the letter and posted in an article by USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz, “as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships.”

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Stanford
Should SB 206 pass and the NCAA ban California schools from participating in postseason play, it would include USC, UCLA, and Stanford. All three currently hold more NCAA championships than any other school.
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Back in May the NCAA announced a working group to explore allowing student athletes to profit off the use of their images and likeness. The working group would include school presidents, athletic administrators, and some student athletes. The NCAA expected to have some sort of answer or solution by October. California higher education committee is expected to vote on SB 206 by July 11th and is expected to pass. If the Bill is passed then it won’t take effect until 2023, however the NCAA would like the state to delay the vote until the working class has a solution.

The biggest thing out of the whole ordeal is the threat to ban California schools from post season and that they believe that the bill will make it impossible to host “fair” national championships. As stated in an article from Alicia De Artola of Reign of Troy and Ryan Abraham of USCFootball.com on twitter, banning the California schools from postseason play would mean banning three schools who currently hold the most NCAA championships in USC, Stanford, and UCLA. All three also play in a Power 5 conference in the Pac-12 conference and are blue bloods in respective sports. Not to mention the NCAA would also Ban schools such as Fresno State, Cal (Another Power 5 school), San Diego State, Sacramento State, UC Davis, and Cal Poly to name the few school in under the NCAA umbrella.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert-Press Conference
NCAA president Mark Emmert sent a letter to two California state legislatures to postpone their vote of the new Fair Play Act. The NCAA announced a working group to explore allowing student-athletes to receive compensation from their use of their image and likeness.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

This feels like an empty threat by Mark Emmert and the NCAA due to the potential potential push back and logic. It’s hard to see the NCAA punish schools for something that a state legislature passed and don’t take effect until four years from now if passed. Not only that but the amount of push back that the NCAA would get would be too much for them as they would have to deal with not only the conferences of the respective schools, but the state of California itself. Then again it isn’t shocking considering it’s the NCAA.

The “Fair Play to play” act could force the NCAA’s hand to compensate players for the usage of their likeness and image. While this “working group” is looking into the issue and matter of allowing players to profit off of things such as video game appearances, autographs, etc, they much rather move at their digression rather than have a state legislature take matters into their own hands and beat them to the punch. While the NCAA preaches amateurism and preserving the integrity of the student-athlete as well, they as well as universities profited billions of dollars of the same student-athletes from photos, endorsements, jersey sales, postseason play, and more. The California bill would change that at least in the state, but could be the source of change.

The question now becomes what does the California legislatures do? It’s hard to see them allow the NCAA dictate or bully them into not allowing the bill to pass through the higher education committee. One thing is for sure, don’t expect to see the NCAA ban California schools from participating from postseason play over this. No rules are being broken and there's no case that can be argued by the NCAA. If anything they’re fighting a losing battle and feeling the pressure to do something that they’ve been trying to avoid for years.