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LeBron James backs California bill that would allow college athletes to make money off endorsements

The argument of whether college athletes should be paid or be able to profit from endorsements has been chatted about in the sports world for years. A bill proposed in California would allow collegiate athletes in the state to profit off endorsement deals, and has the support Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

The three-time NBA champion voiced his approval for the Fair Pay to Play Act by tweeting out for everyone in California to make a call and support the act. He calls the act a “game changer.”

The Senate Bill 206, or SB 206, would prevent schools in the state from removing scholarships or eligibility from athletes who use their platform and their sport to get an endorsement deal to make their own money. The act introduced by state senators Nancy Skinner and Steven Bradford will also make it so athletes can hire an attorney or agent for any business deal without the potential to lose their eligibility. 

The bill aims to give players to same options as Olympic athletes, who can have endorsement deals, but its authors say the legislation will not force schools to pay their athletes upfront. The bill has moved to the California State Assembly vote after getting approved by the Senate, and if the law passes it will go into effect in January of 2023.

With debates as longstanding as this one, there are of course people who disagree with the bill. Mark Emmert, NCAA’s president who is currently working to look at rules regarding athlete’s pay, asked legislators in California to delay the vote. He also seemed to suggest the possible prevention of California colleges from being involved in NCAA championships if this law did go into effect.

Bernard Muir, Stanford’s athletic director is also against the motion and believes it would interrupt the college sports landscape. “Allowing student-athletes to receive compensation from their name, image, and likeness, would present serious challenges for higher education institutions and to the collegiate sports model,” he said in a letter to California State Senate. “We believe that for any reform to be fair and meaningful to all student-athletes it needs to occur at the national level and be adopted by the NCAA.”