Last year, California became the first state to enact legislation to give college athletes the ability to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). The legislation is entitled the "Fair Pay to Play Act," and it will allow college athletes in California to benefit from the commercial use of their name, image, and likeness. At its passage, the law was set to take effect in 2023. Since California passed its' "Fair Pay to Play Act,", several states have followed suit. Specifically, New Jersey, Colorado, Florida, and Nebraska have enacted similar legislation. Florida's law is set to take effect the earliest with an effective date of July 1, 2021. Nebraska's law has an effective date of July 1, 2023, but the law includes a provision that allows colleges in the state to immediately take advantage of the new NIL opportunities for their athletes. However, no college in Nebraska has taken advantage of the provision.
In addition to the legislation on the state level, the federal government is considering college athlete NIL legislation as well. Four bills have been introduced to Congress addressing the issue. Additionally, the Senate has held multiple hearings addressing college athletes' NIL rights. Due to the mounting pressure from looming effective dates of state NIL laws, the NCAA announced plans to change their rules to allow college athletes to benefit from the commercial use of their name, image, and likeness. While the NCAA has proposed changes to their rules governing college athletes' NIL, many believe that the NCAA's rule changes are still too restrictive.
Accordingly, the two Senators who introduced California's "Fair Pay to Act" announced their plan to update the Act and provide an earlier effective date. The bill will either become effective on August 1, 2021 (the date the NCAA's rules will go into effect once they are finalized and voted on) or January 1, 2022. Additionally, the proposed update will prevent colleges from denying college athletes opportunities that are afforded to other students. Overall, the proposed update to the law will seek to ensure that college athletes' rights are not unduly and unfairly restricted.