Female basketball player at Los Angeles Southwest College

Should California community college student athletes get the opportunity to market themselves? The SB 206 Community College Athlete Name, Image, and Likeness Working Group aims to find out.

In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 206 (Skinner-D) the Fair Pay to Play Act, allowing four-year college and university athletes to sign endorsement deals and sponsorships while maintaining eligibility. The new law, which goes into effect in January 2023, is designed in part to level the playing field for college athletes, many of whom do not receive full scholarships. The legislation aims to help alleviate some of the financial hardships these student athletes face, giving them a chance to earn money so they can stay in school and finish their degree or certificate. The law, however, currently does not extend to community college athletes. Instead, it calls for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to develop a working group to review federal, state, local and athletic association laws and make recommendations to the Legislature by July 1, 2021.

The working group, comprised of Chancellor’s Office employees, student athletes, coaches and other internal stakeholders, kicked off over the summer with its first meeting in July. Group meetings and public hearings are underway each month, so the working group can hear testimony from experts on the pros and cons of allowing community college athletes the opportunity to be compensated for their name, image and likeness. The public is also welcome to share their opinion at upcoming hearings. Find more information here.

Once the working group makes recommendations to the Legislature, lawmakers are expected to make one of three decisions: leave SB 206 as it stands for only four-year college and university athletes; extend the rights of SB 206 to community college athletes or perhaps go one step further and offer even more name, image and likeness rights to community colleges athletes. For example, not limiting the types of companies or brands which with a student could work.

California was the first state to adopt such a measure; several other states have adopted or are debating similar legislation.