SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A new law, signed on Monday, will allow college athletes to get paid in California. Meanwhile, a South Carolina lawmaker plans to push for even bolder legislation.
90th District State Representative Justin Bamberg, who serves Colleton, Barnwell, and Bamber counties, believes college athletes should be compensated. He’s joining other lawmakers in the Palmetto State to make player pay a reality by re-introducing their version of the measure.
“The way the bill was worded is they would receive $2500 a semester for a total of $5,000 a year and they would receive a lump sum at graduation,” said Bamberg, adding, “Not all athletes have full scholarships, some have partial some have none. And they’re unable to get a job because sports and school take up all their time.”
California’s new law goes against the National Colligate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules to maintain amateur status.
Savannah native Eron Riley played professionally in the NFL, but Riley says he struggled to make ends meet while on a full scholarship at Duke University.
“Just a whole bunch of other expenses people don’t think about, just think ‘Oh, they’re on a full scholarship, they got three meals and a bed.’ You do get that absolutely and they do take care of you, but there’s other expenses that come with it,” said Riley, who added the pay for play law is fair because college athletics generates billions of dollars for the schools and the NCAA.
“They bring in so much revenue to these colleges. I mean it’s not college football, it’s a business now. I mean you got TV deals, it’s on national TV. It’s so much money that’s pumped into it,” Riley said.
Tom Kleinlein, Georgia Southern University’s Athletic Director recently spoke about the dilemma player pay creates for NCAA athletic programs.
“How do you award the image and the likeness and the ability to pay these young people, but yet, still keep us an amateur sport? Therein lies the biggest complexity we’re dealing with,” Kleinlein.
Riley says there is a way for the NCAA to preserve amateur athletics if that’s their true endgame.
“It’s a business at the end of the day to me. Like I say, if that was the case, take away the TVs, take away all that. Let ’em play on Friday nights in the back yard or something like that if that was the case if they really want to make it pure amateur instead of making money off those guys if that’s what they’re worried about,” Riley said.
The NCAA’s Board of Governors has called California’s law “harmful and, we believe, unconstitutional” in a letter to legislative leaders.
The legal fight that may ensue will deal with three issues: civil rights, worker’s rights, and free marketplace. That law doesn’t take effect in the Golden State until January 2023.
New York joins South Carolina in crafting similar legislation. Bamberg hopes to take up the players’ pay bill in the Palmetto State in their next legislative session.