California will allow college athletes to be paid, opening the door for student-athletes to capitalize off their talent while enrolled in school. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed the first of its kind legislation into law, which—barring any court challenges—will allow college athletes to enter endorsement deals, a potentially huge payout for some athletes that until now has been strictly forbidden by the NCAA. “Every single student in the university can market their name, image and likeness; they can go and get a YouTube channel, and they can monetize that,” Newsom said in an interview with The New York Times. “The only group that can’t are athletes. Why is that?”
Newsom’s plan was widely supported in the state legislature, but has been met with fierce resistance from the NCAA. The organization, and its universities, generate billions of dollars each year under the current system. The NCAA has called Newsom’s law “unconstitutional” and maintained that there should be a distinction between student and and professional athletes. Schools are now in danger of being banned from major NCAA tournaments that largely drive college athletic revenue. Newsom’s law has effectively dared the NCAA to ban the schools, betting that it cannot afford to lose California universities. The measure is set to take effect in 2023.