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Joe Nocera

College Athletes May (Finally) Get to Cash In

California's Fair Pay to Play Act will help prevent the NCAA from continuing to exploit amateurs.

Show them the money.

Show them the money.

Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

The California Assembly has 61 Democrats and 18 Republicans. The California Senate has 29 Democrats and 11 Republicans. As with everywhere else in the U.S., the two parties are divided on most issues, from regulating the gig economy to limiting gun purchases. But there is one issue on which both Democrats and Republicans in California are aligned: paying, at long last, college athletes.

On Monday, a bill that would override the “amateurism” rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and give athletes at the major California universities the right to capitalize financially on their name, likeness and image passed the Assembly by a vote of 72-0. Then, on Wednesday, the state senate passed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which allows athletes to market themselves for things like personal sponsorships, endorsements, and video-game licensing, by a margin of 39-0. Not a single dissent! I still can’t quite believe it.