(Rock Hill, S.C.) — On Sept. 30, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, which would allow college athletes to accept payment for the use of their name, likeness and image.
It would also allow them to hire agents and accept endorsement money, beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
California is the first state to allow college athletes to profit from their fame, but a number of other states, including South Carolina, are exploring similar laws.
S.C. Sen. Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston) and state Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-Bamberg) plan to propose a similar bill in January when the General Assembly reconvenes.
Under the proposal, student athletes in profitable sports, such as basketball and football, would earn $5,000 a year for playing, while in good academic standing. The money would be given to the student in a lump sum after graduation.
Students who receive tuition and housing, but not a stipend, would also have the opportunity to accept endorsements and sponsorships.
Kimpson and Bamberg did not immediately respond to the Palmetto Report’s request for comment.
However, Kimpson told The Post and Courier the bill was inspired by former University of South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore, whose football career was cut short by injury.
“I saw him carry that football team on his back and not get paid for any of it,” Kimpson told the Post and Courier.
Lattimore was the face of the USC football program until he injured his leg during the 2012 season. He officially retired in 2014.
Kimpson has proposed paying college athletes before, but previous attempts have never gotten further than a committee hearing.
“I definitely believe (athletes) should be paid because they do work really hard and being an elite athlete takes a lot of time,” said Savannah Roper, a Winthrop University volleyball player.
“Sometimes those athletes don’t come from the best homelives. They pretty much live off of football or basketball, because they know they can make a life through football and basketball, because they don’t come from a family that goes to college.”
Roper said she thinks a school’s top players will have more opportunities for endorsements.
One argument against paying college athletes, is that would violate Title IX, which was introduced in 1972 to ensure gender equality in education programs or federal financial assistance.
Title IX makes opportunities in sports equal for men and women and ensures that scholarships will be distributed based on their participation.
“Title IX is an education specific act, so it says that it’s all about the money and resources that the school is providing,” said Lauren McCoy, an assistant professor of sports management at Winthrop.
“(The California law) is allowing athletes to go get money from outside the school,” she said. So the school is not actually paying anything, so because the school isn’t paying anything, there is no Title IX violation.”
McCoy said the California law uses the Olympic model, which allows athletes to make money from endorsements and sponsorships, but maintain amateur status because they are not paid by their ranking organizations.
“Essentially what it does is it allows those student athletes to be like any other student on campus and to go find a job or to find some work and get paid for their abilities,” said McCoy.
Winthrop Head Volleyball Coach Chuck Rey said allowing athletes to accept endorsements could reduce funding for athletic programs and universities.
“When you start taking away the large pool of money that is available through endorsements and giving it to a very select few athletes, that big pool of money is now cut down,” said Rey.
“Money that could be available for a university as a whole, athletics as a whole is now going to be less.”
Additionally, a number of lawmakers have proposed federal legislation that would allow college athletes to earn money.
For example, U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-North Carolina), who is a former college athlete, has proposed a federal bill that would change the tax codes to force the NCAA to allow student-athletes to make money from third parties or be at risk of losing nonprofit tax exemptions.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), a former Ohio State football player, said he plans to propose a federal law, similar to California’s, that would allow college athletes to make endorsement money.
In response, the NCAA’s board of governors announced last week that it voted unanimously to allow student-athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.