All college athletes in California can now get paid

All college athletes in California can now earn money from their name, image and likeness thanks to a bill signed into law on Tuesday evening by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

It's a first-in-the-nation law called the Fair Pay to to Play Act and it inspired a wave of states across the country to take similar action to empower student athletes.

The law becomes effective Wednesday ahead of the original January 2023 implementation date, and includes community college athletes as well. 

State legislators wanted SB 26 to take effect immediately so colleges and universities wouldn't be confused by the NCAA's interim suspension of its rules against this type of compensation.

"California led the charge against the unjust power imbalance in college sports, launching a national movement and spurring long-overdue changes in this multibillion-dollar enterprise," Newsom said in a statement. 

The law was co-authored by senators Nancy Skinner, (D-Berkeley,) Steven Bradford, (D-Gardena,) and California Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita. 

Without California's law taking effect, universities in the state could have developed their own rules, according to Skinner's office. 

 "California for the win – again!" Skinner said in a statement. "We were the first state to grant college athletes the right to earn money from their name, image, and likeness with SB 206, the Fair Pay to Play Act, two years ago. And we sparked a national movement against the NCAA’s exploitation of college athletes, with more than 25 states joining our cause." 

Bradford said in a statement that the law is "proof that our political system is an important one for undoing the vestige of slavery."

He added that until now,  young, hardworking, and talented college athletes had been denied the fruits of their labor and were left struggling to buy books and food while other students, such as engineers, could earn money from their side hustles. 

SB 26 also strengthens the Fair Pay to Play Act by allowing college athletes to earn money from their "athletic reputation." 

The concept of athletic reputation has been adopted by other states and embraced by the NCAA, and it ensures a college athlete can identify in ads and endorsements what school they attend.

The immediate implementation of the Fair Pay to Play Act also clears up any confusion that California schools and students might have about "name, image and likeness" rights as all California colleges will have to conform to state law, Skinner's office said. 

Earlier this summer, the NCAA released a decision allowing these rights but specified that colleges and universities in states without these laws could essentially create their own rules.