California lawmaker spurs NCAA to make historic change: College athletes can now earn money

The NCAA made a historic change Wednesday, announcing that college athletes will now be able to make money from their name, image, and likeness. The NCAA Board's decision comes after a Bay Area lawmaker from Berkeley got the ball rolling to change laws on the state level.

"Well, the NCAA finally threw in the towel. It's a true victory for student-athletes, who've been exploited for decades," said California Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).   "This isn't just about the really, you know, high-achieving basketball or football players. It's for anyone, the swimmer, the volleyball player, the wrestler, all can benefit from this."

Skinner was the author of a California bill that paved the way.

"California kick-started it. We passed our law in 2019. Twenty two other states followed us," said Skinner.

Some of those new state laws are set to take effect on July 1. That prospect of students and colleges facing different profit policies, put great pressure on the NCAA to make the temporary change in order to create a level playing field.

Under the new policy, student-athletes will be allowed to make money on endorsements, secure paid sponsorships, and get paid for appearances and social media posts.

"Instagram, your YouTube, you think about Katelyn Ohashi the great UCLA gymnast. She had over a million viewers. Anybody else with a million viewers made a lot of money off their YouTube video. Not Katelyn. Why? Because of the NCAA rules," said Skinner.

The policy change also allows student-athletes to use professional services such as agents, tax advisors, marketing consultants, attorneys, and brand managers.

Supporters of the change say they think it's fair that athletes get some compensation for their work.

"I know a lot of student-athletes that have to kind of salvage a lot of their money to be able to afford food and other necessary expenses that aren't included in the scholarships," said Ashlie Barillas, a recent UC Berkeley graduate from the Los Angeles area.

"If their image is being used, their bodies are being used, their talents are being used, they should be receiving compensation in some way," said Rory Cooper, a Berkeley resident.

Mike Bernstein is President of Golden Gate Sports, an agency that represents football players turning pro.

"Athletes that are on social media, and I can't imagine any aren't, could become really popular and then different brands and sponsors would knock on their door and pay them to advertise," said Bernstein, "The key question is...whether or not the athletes will be able to do endorsements and appear on the internet and social media with their school uniforms."

NCAA rules still ban compensation for enrollment, so-called pay-for-play, and money for work not performed.

The NCAA says this is a temporary policy and the board hopes there will be federal legislation to create a uniform standard.

"With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level," said NCAA President Mark Emmert.

The NCAA’s decision applies to all three divisions which include about 460,000 student-athletes.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or