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California has just signed a historic bill that could finally lead to more college athletes getting paid. The moment has big names like LeBron James celebrating.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will let California athletes be compensated for use of their names, images, and likeness.

Bill 206 was introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and it steadily gained national attention from athletes like James and Draymond Green. They lauded the bill as a chance to give college athletes a share of the profits they help create for their universities and the NCAA. The bill was voted on unanimously in the state legislature.

To commemorate the signing, Newsom signed the bill on an episode of HBO’s The Shop. The talk show, backed by digital sports media company Uninterrupted and LeBron James, also hosted the WNBA’s Diana Taurasi and former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon for the signing. The moment was recorded on Friday but released on Monday, according to Newsom’s office.

“It’s going to initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation,” Newsom said on the show. “And it’s going to change college sports for the better by having now the interest finally of the athletes on par with the interests of the institution. Now we are rebalancing that power.”

 

Newsom, who was a college baseball player at Santa Clara University, said in September that he had “very strong opinions on this subject” having been a student athlete.

The signed bill will prohibit the NCAA from banning a university from competition if its athletes are compensated for the use of their image, names, or likeness beginning in 2023. Currently, the NCAA rules strictly prohibit athletes from profiting from their sports.

Now, along with athletes being able to sign endorsement deals with major companies, the new law could also offer smaller opportunities that were previously banned, such as paid youth coaching positions. The bill still prohibits schools from directly paying athletes.

The NCAA has opposed SB 206 for the most part and in September they sent a letter to Newsom urging California to hold off on the bill. They wanted to give a working group created earlier this year more time to interrogate the name, image and likeness issue.

“Right now, nearly half a million student-athletes in all 50 states compete under the same rules,” the letter read. “This bill would remove that essential element of fairness and equal treatment that forms the bedrock of college sports.”

As a response to the newly signed bill, the NCAA issued a statement on Monday, reading:

“As a membership organization, the NCAA agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the NCAA’s rules-making process. Unfortunately, this new law already is creating confusion for current and future student-athletes, coaches, administrators and campuses, and not just in California.”

Senator Skinner has refuted the NCAA’s beliefs, saying that legal scholars have concluded that the bill was solid. She hopes that the success of SB 206 will lead other states to pass similar legislation. New York already seems to be on track with a state senator introducing a similar bill with the added rule that college athletic departments share 15% of annual revenue from ticket sales with student athletes.

“This is truly a historic moment for college athletes,” Skinner said.

Check out more responses to the signed SB 206 below, including words from stars like LeBron James and Draymond Green.

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