(Photo courtesy of Cal football/Facebook)

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a piece of legislation that will allow college athletes to profit from their names and images.

Newsom signed Senate Bill 206, otherwise known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, on Sept. 27 during a taping of basketball star LeBron James’ HBO show “The Shop.”

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and state Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, authored the legislation targeting National Collegiate Athletic Association rules that do not allow student athletes to earn compensation from their association with college sports.

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“For decades, college sports has generated billions for all involved except the very people most responsible for creating the wealth. That’s wrong,” Skinner said in a news release.

SB 206, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023, means athletes will be able to earn money from endorsements, sponsorship deals and any other activities related to their athletic skills. The law is not going into effect immediately to give colleges and the NCAA time to prepare for the change, according to Skinner’s office.

Newsom said in a statement that the law “is the beginning of a national movement — one that transcends geographic and partisan lines.”

He said, “Colleges reap billions from these student athletes’ sacrifices and success but, in the same breath, block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model — one that puts institutions ahead of the students they are supposed to serve. It needs to be disrupted.”

The NCAA warned Newsom in a letter earlier last month that the bill would be “unconstitutional” and “harmful” to college athletics.

“If the bill becomes law and California’s 58 NCAA schools are compelled to allow an unrestricted name, image and likeness scheme, it would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions,” the NCAA said in its letter.

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Bay City News, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.