How Will California’s ‘Fair Pay To Play Act’ Impact College Lacrosse?

(Photo Credit: Greg Wall/Albany Athletics)

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the SB206 Act, also known as Fair Pay to Play, into law – which allows college athletes in the state to make money off their own image and likeness. He actually signed the bill while on an episode of Lebron James’ HBO show “The Shop” which was aired on Monday when the news officially broke. 

The law is officially slated to go into effect in the state of California on January 1st, 2023, which gives the NCAA and California schools plenty of time to figure out how to handle this new legislation, and gives others state a federal legislators across the country time to introduce similar bills at the state or federal level – which is already happening.

While this new bill and any trickle-down effect from it will likely benefit DI men’s basketball and football programs the most, college lacrosse could be affected by this new legislation, as well. 

Currently, the only DI college lacrosse programs in California are Stanford and USC women’s lacrosse teams. While I can’t image any car dealership or business hiring any player from one of those programs to be a spokesperson, appear in a commercial, or do any other kind of marketing for them, it would be possible.

The most realistic option for lacrosse players from any of California’s programs to make money would be through YouTube or social media as they would be permitted to monetize their channels and collect money from ad revenue and any brands that want to endorse them. 

However, if similar bills begin to get passed in other states or at the federal level then there could be opportunities for college lacrosse players across the country to profit off their image and likeness. And for players at big-time programs or players with big social media followings, serious money could come. And yes, a few thousand dollars is big for any college athlete. 

For example, imagine that the state of North Carolina or the federal government passes a similar bill that goes into effect in the same year (2023). Current St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) attackman and Duke commit Brennan O’Neill, called the Zion Williamson of lacrosse by some, would be a junior for the Blue Devils when that bill would go into effect. How many lacrosse companies or any other brands come after him for a sponsorship deal? If a bill was in effect in New York right now I can guarantee that Albany’s Tehoka Nanticoke would have companies across the lacrosse world, and possibly local businesses as well, knocking on his door. 

As mentioned before, the social media marketing aspect would likely be the biggest way lacrosse players would make money under a pay for play bill. College players see what professional players like Paul Rabil have built with his social media empire. Top-notch college players at top-notch programs or even lower-end college players with great personalities would benefit greatly in the realm of social media and YouTube under any bill that allows them to profit off their image and likeness. 

The one issue in other sports that is being raised is the recruiting imbalance that this bill could create for schools in California. While that does not impact lacrosse as much yet, if this trend continues on a state-by-state basis than states with college lacrosse programs could benefit more, especially if that state has a big-time program within its borders. While not all players will pick a school based on if they can make money or not, some certainly will. 

Nothing has directly impacted college lacrosse as of yet, but as the sport grows and changes continues in college athletics, change in the sport of lacrosse will come too.

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