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Report: NCAA warns California schools with championships ban if bill becomes law

June 25, 2019

The NCAA has warned the California schools that they could be facing a ban from its championships if a bill allowing student-athletes in California to earn income off of their name, image, and likeness is passed and becomes state law, according to a USA Today report.

The warning and opposition to the bill was issued in a pair of letters last week from NCAA President Mark Emmert to the chairs of two California State Assembly committees. The California law, which would go into effect in 2023 if passed, could prohibit 23 NCAA Division I schools from partaking in the organization’s championship events. Those schools include four from the Pac-12 (Cal, Stanford, UCLA, and USC), one of the Power Five conferences in collegiate athletics.

In the letter, Emmert urged the committees to stop considering the bill as the NCAA continues to review its rules over student-athletes being able to earn income. Last month, the NCAA created a panel of school presidents and athletic administrators to go over issues brought up in proposed federal and state legislation regarding student-athletes earning income off of their name, image and likeness. The group is expected to submit a final report in October, while the California legislative session ends in September.

“We recognize all of the efforts that have been undertaken to develop this bill in the context of complex issues related to the current collegiate model that have been the subject of litigation and much national debate,” Emmert wrote. “Nonetheless, when contrasted with current NCAA rules, 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. As a result, it likely would have a negative impact on the exact student-athletes it intends to assist.”

The bill, which passed the California State Senate last month by a 31-4 vote, will be the subject of a hearing and vote by the California State Assembly’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee on Tuesday. If the bill makes it out of committee, it would then go to the State Assembly’s Higher Education Committee for an approval by July 11 in order to remain alive.

“Passage of the bill now will create confusion among prospective and current student-athletes and our membership,” Emmert wrote. “The impact of a prematurely passed bill would be difficult to untangle.”

A spokeswoman for Assembly member Kansen Chu (D-San Jose), who will be chairing Tuesday’s hearing for the proposed law, said that Emmert’s letter pushed Chu to seek an amendment from the bill’s author, Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). Wording was added late last week that says the California State Legislature will monitor the NCAA task force and revisit the issue to implement any significant findings and recommendations that come out of the NCAA panel’s October report.

But not everyone in the California State Legislature is on board with the proposed bill, as several expressed concern with the conflict it could cause with the NCAA.

“This bill could result in our students and campuses being unable to participate in intercollegiate sports,” said State Senator Jeff Stone (R-Temecula). “It seems like it’s a bill that would be more appropriate to entertain at the federal level.”

The proposed California law isn’t the only one relating to student-athletes earning income currently being considered, as a similar bill was introduced in Congress back in March.

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