Student-Athletes Now Entitled to Compensation for Name, Image, Likeness, or Athletic Reputation Under the California Fair Pay to Play Act

Certain California student-athletes are now allowed to profit from their name, image, likeness, or athletic reputation in a bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on August 31, 2021. Governor Newsom had signed a similar bill back on September 30, 2019, to permit student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness with an implementation date of January 2023. However, Governor Newsom’s signature on August 31 accelerated the active date to September 1, 2021.

The Fair Pay to Play Act applies to postsecondary education student-athletes. Postsecondary institutions are defined under the Act as “any campus of the University of California, the California State University, the California Community Colleges, certain independent institutions of higher education, or certain private postsecondary educational institutions. Students will not lose any scholarship eligibility they may have if athletes are receiving profit from their name, image, likeness, or athletic reputation.

The Act states that any contract for profit from an athlete’s name, image, likeness, and athletic reputation cannot conflict with the original team’s activities. Accordingly, the athlete must disclose any for-profit contract to an official of the athlete’s institution.

Although student-athletes are not necessarily institution employees, that may change as pending lawsuits and legislation make their way through the legal system. The California Fair Pay to Play Act is the first step to student-athletes having more legal protections. Please contact the California Legal Services team at CAInfo@employerscouncil.org with any questions.