The California bill that would see the state's college athletes win the rights to market their name, image and likeness--independent of the NCAA's approval of such practice--has passed the state's Senate and now heads to the Assembly's committee for vote.
It's a blatant attempt by the state to thumb its nose at the NCAA's self-insistent dominion over college athletes' bank accounts. If approved, the law would not go into effect until 2023, a gamble that by passing the law, California could force the NCAA's hand to change its amateurism rules.
"Having this date set forward in 2023 allows the NCAA to do the job that they should be doing not just for California, but for all other 49 states in our great union," lawmaker Bill Dodd said, via USA Today.
The NCAA is prepared to call California's bluff, as NCAA president Mark Emmert has written a letter to the appropriate committee chairs saying the NCAA would move on without California if the law passes as is.
“We recognize all of the efforts that have been undertaken to develop this bill in the context of complex issues related to the current collegiate model that have been the subject of litigation and much national debate,” Emmert wrote. “Nonetheless, when contrasted with current NCAA rules, as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics and create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships. As a result, it likely would have a negative impact on the exact student-athletes it intends to assist."
While this would, in theory, have no impact on college football, at least at the FBS level--the College Football Playoff and bowl games are governed by the conferences, not the NCAA--it would have a major impact on the NCAA itself. You can't just can the nation's most populous state, then turn around and tell your TV partners and your sponsors, "Hey, it's in the rule book!"
Cal, UCLA, USC and Stanford have all won at least 100 NCAA team national championships. Certain Olympic sports championships would not even be viewed as legitimate inside those sports without California's participation.
It's a long way to go until 2023 and the NCAA is currently studying the issue, but it certainly seems like lawmakers in California are willing to go to war to force the issue -- with their state's future college athletes on the front lines.