Senate Bill 206

Mario Cristobal on Fair Pay to Play Act: “It’s our obligation, responsibility” to help student-athletes

Mario Cristobal on Fair Pay to Play Act: “It’s our obligation, responsibility” to help student-athletes

Beginning in 2023, California law will be in direct opposition to the NCAA’s definition of amateurism. Monday morning, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the “Fair Pay to Play Act" Senate Bill 206. This will allow the state’s college athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsements.

Get your popcorn ready, this will be a major showdown with the NCAA. If the bill survives the expected court challenges, the NCAA's business model would be in question.

The ability for athletes to make money could create a major recruiting advantage for schools in California. However it also begs the question, would out of state schools be willing to schedule games with California teams? Would the NCAA ban California teams from future competition?

The ruling of unconstitutional or not will likely come from a judge’s decision.

Obviously the bill will have major implications on the Pac-12 Conference and the nation. The conference released the following statement, in opposition of the bill.

“The Pac-12 is disappointed in the passage of SB 206 and believes it will have very significant negative consequences for our student-athletes and broader universities in California. This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports and many unintended consequences related to this professionalism, imposes a state law that conflicts with national rules, will blur the lines for how California universities recruit student-athletes and compete nationally, and will likely reduce resources and opportunities for student-athletes in Olympic sports and have a negative disparate impact on female student-athletes.”

Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal, who competes against four California universities each season, wanted to do a deeper dive into the first-in-the-nation law before giving a comment on the specific bill. However, he did give his own insight:

"I certainly believe that in any way that we can help the student-athletes I think it’s our obligation, our responsibility,” Cristobal said. “We certainly do a lot for them here. I know what it’s like; I’ve been there. I don’t know enough about how, what the rules are, what the format is for that. I’m all for making sure that we maximize what they can benefit or how they can benefit.”

Newsom’s take is that student-athletes are prohibited from being fairly compensated while “other college students with a talent, whether it be literature, music, or technological innovation, can monetize their skill and hard work.”

California schools could form a new organization, since membership in the NCAA is voluntary.