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Callan G. Stein, a partner in the White Collar Litigation and Investigations Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton, was quoted in the October 4, 2019 Inside Higher Ed article, "The Push for Player Pay Goes National."
The California law, Senate Bill 206, nicknamed Fair Pay to Play, prevents the NCAA from disqualifying collegiate players if they have third-party contracts with vendors that pay them for marketing campaigns, sponsorships and other uses of their name and image. It does not allow college athletes to be paid by their university, which was a strategic move by California legislators to propel the bill further, said Callan Stein, a partner at the law firm Pepper Hamilton who works in white-collar legislation and follows NCAA issues in the courts.
“The California law was very smartly drafted -- it was more narrow in scope than prior attempts to address the NCAA amateur issue,” Stein said. “The bill doesn’t seek to name athletes employees of the schools; they don’t get salaries from the school. They don’t devalue the NCAA scholarship and room and board … It really just prevents the schools from stripping players of payments.”
The bill currently sits in the House Ways and Means Committee, and Stein said it’s less attractive than the proposed Gonzalez bill, which aims to work with the NCAA to adjust federal law and its own rules, rather than penalize the association.
In its initial response to the California legislation in May, the NCAA suggested that the bill would be unconstitutional, and the association was probably suggesting that the law would violate interstate commerce, Stein said. The federal government has oversight of commercial exchanges that span multiple states, according to the U.S. Constitution.
“If a federal bill is to be passed, that argument would disappear,” Stein said.
A Seton Hall Sports poll released Thursday found that 60 percent of 714 respondents endorsed allowing college athletes to be paid. Stein said that if this view holds for the public at large, it could be an easy, bipartisan effort in Congress.
Any predictions on what the NCAA will do next are pure speculation, Stein said, and the college athletics world will have to patiently wait until later in October, when the association’s working group on name, image and likeness is set to deliver recommendations.