Could California bill lead to college athletes getting paid by universities? | College Football Enquirer

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger discuss a bill that is expected to be introduced in the California legislature that would require schools in the state to share 50% of the revenue earned through athletics with the athletes, and debate if this could be the biggest change agent in the future of college athletics.

Video transcript

PAT FORDE: We can have players getting paid, but it can't be paid for play up front. We can pay them through collectives, but the schools can't be involved with the collectives. The half-measures are not working.


DAN WETZEL: We were talking some last week, or last episode earlier this week, about the looming possibility that a court or somebody determines that college athletes are employees of their university. And it is the biggest change agent, positive, negative, or not, however you want to feel about it, that is kind of coming down the tracks.

If you recall, the reason NILs became a thing was because the state of California passed it in 2019. So there's also a bill in California that last year failed, State Bill 1401. It was named the College Athlete Race and Gender Equity Act. Just-- I'm not really sure if that's quite what this is about.

But that would require schools in California to share 50% of annual revenues in football and men's and women's basketball with the athletes. This would be the monster of all change agents because you're talking millions and millions of dollars. And presumably would give those schools a competitive advantage over all the other schools in the country.

So I guess the question is, does that kind of movement continue? It did not work in the past. But could we get anywhere in the future, either in California or somewhere else with that? And that would truly take amateurism and essentially end it, it would seem to me. Or maybe there's a way to work through it or work around it. I don't know. But it would be that kind of a maneuver.

So long intro into this. Is this what people should be worried about? What do you think, Ross?

ROSS DELLENGER: Well, I think if you're-- if you are against amateurism collapsing, you should probably worry. As you mentioned, it was a state legislature not the-- not necessarily the courts, although the Supreme Court had something to do with it with the whole NIL stuff. But it started in the state legislature, started in the state assembly of California, where this next bill is going to start.

As you mentioned, last year this revenue sharing bill failed in the State Assembly of California. It'll be reintroduced soon, probably in the coming days it will be reintroduced. And there is optimism that this year, it will not fail and that it will pass and that the state of California will require its colleges and universities to share revenue with its athletes in sports that generate twice as much revenue as it spends on scholarships, which end up being basically football, men's basketball, and, in some cases, women's basketball.

And it will be put-- I think the particulars of the bill will come out soon. But it'll be put-- the money will be put into a trust. And the athletes will get it upon graduation. However, a portion of the money will be distributed to them every year. But I think the bulk of it will be in some kind of trust.

So it's an interesting model. We saw California pass the NIL stuff. We saw what happened with that. It took off. So this is the next evolution of that.

PAT FORDE: It's fascinating to me, the next evolution coming closer to completely eradicating the old system if this does come to pass. And it's interesting too, like with the trust aspect of it. Remember Josh Rosen, the old UCLA quarterback? When he was leaving college, he got behind and put his name behind this very same sort of idea that was being promoted by some people.

I liked it. I thought there was a lot that recommended to it, where the athletes were going to get paid, but they also weren't all going to get it upfront. It was going to be backloaded, a lot of it contingent on graduation, that sort of thing. So that was one of those deals that kind of, I think, kept both sides, if there are such a thing, relatively happy.

But here's the thing. We have seen this. We saw it with the Supreme Court. We've seen it with other court decisions. We've seen with legislatures, they keep pushing back and saying, look, we don't like your model. It's not working. And the NCAA or the conferences or who-- the college leaders are like, well, if we could just thread this needle here, we can still make it work.

We can have players getting paid, but it can't be pay for play upfront. We can pay them through collectives, but the schools can't be involved with the collectives. It's like, the half measures are not working. They're not sustainable, or they haven't, at least, been sustainable via what are the rules that are set up.

So I feel like we're just gradually getting to the point where we're going to reach flat out, either revenue sharing, employee status, whatever the case is going to be. I just don't see where you'd kind of keep drawing this line in between that's going to work.