The NCAA’s Golden Rule

By Mirabella Booth

When Jordyn Weiber was 16 she became the world champion in gymnastics. With such a short window to capitalize on her success, Weiber had to make a crucial decision: Whether to capitalize on her moment atop the medal podium or preserve her amateur eligibility.

Weiber decided to forgo her amateur NCAA eligibility and become a professional athlete. She went on the following year to become an Olympic gold medalist, making appearances and cashing in on endorsement deals. When the money and hype surrounding her success started to dwindle, Weiber enrolled as a student at UCLA. Unable to participate in NCAA athletics and accept athletic scholarships, Weiber was plagued with a tremendous amount of tuition and was left unable to compete with the UCLA gymnastics team. It's a harsh reality that’s all too common with young high-level caliber athletes like Weiber.

A new bill has been passed in California that combats this harsh reality. The “Fair Pay to Play” Act makes it illegal for California colleges to deny their student-athletes opportunities to profit from their name and likeness. Starting in 2023, student-athletes from California will have the authorization to hire agents and other representatives to assist them in negotiating and securing commercial opportunities. This means these student-athletes will be able to gain profit and participate in college athletics.

But these athletes might not be able to participate in the NCAA and here's why: The NCAA has time to remove California schools from the conference. If California is the only state to pass this bill, California schools will be forced to compete among themselves.

While this bill makes strides toward allowing collegiate athletes more rights to profit from their name and likeness, the bill isn’t without its flaws. Only time will tell how other states and the NCAA take action on this pressing issue.