(Reuters) – The governor of California on Monday signed a bill permitting college athletes in that state to be paid, the first such move by any U.S. state to provide the lucrative opportunity of brand sponsorships and endorsements to college sports stars.
The bill, which states that college athletes may profit from their “name, image or likeness,” contradicts the National College Athletic Association’s (NCAA) longstanding rule that college athletes cannot earn compensation.
“Colleges and universities reap billions from these student athletes’ sacrifices and success but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model — one that puts institutions ahead of the students they are supposed to serve,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
Under the bill, endorsement deals should not have any effect on student scholarships. It also permits student athletes to employ agents.
The NCAA said the California law risked confusing current and future student athletes by creating different rules for colleges in different states.
“A patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field,” it said in a statement.
California has a history of driving legal changes in the United States by testing new policy ideas.
Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Amy Tennery; Editing by Bill Berkrot