N.C.A.A. Athletes Could Be Paid Under New California Law

If it survives any legal battles and takes effect, the California measure will apply to the state’s biggest college sports programs, as well as many of its smaller ones. With limited exceptions, the schools and the N.C.A.A. will not be allowed to keep students from participating in sports if they have been paid for the use of their names, images or likenesses, whether in connection with lucrative shoe contracts or modest endorsements for local restaurants. Students will also be permitted to hire agents, a move now restricted.

“People are just so aware of the fact that you’ve got a multibillion-dollar industry that — let’s set aside scholarships — basically denies compensation to the very talent, the very work that produces that revenue,” said Senator Nancy Skinner, a Democrat, who wrote the legislation. “Students who love their sport and are committed to continuing their sport in college are handicapped in so many ways, and it’s all due to N.C.A.A. rules.”

Skinner introduced the legislation in February, and Newsom said he had not expected it to reach his desk. Still, sensing the severity of the legislative threat from California, as well as from a handful of other states and Congress, the N.C.A.A. announced in May that it had convened a committee to consider changes — a tactic that supporters of the existing model hoped would buy time and stave off legislative action.

The group’s recommendations are expected in October, but California officials, skeptical that the N.C.A.A. would adopt substantive changes, chose to press ahead with their legislation.

“People said, ‘You know what, we’ve got to force their hands,’” said Newsom, who was once a regent for some of California’s largest public universities. “They’re not going to do the right thing on their own. They only do the right thing when they’re sued or they’re forced to do the right thing.”

At least on this issue, the sentiment was bipartisan; the bill passed unanimously.

Like Newsom, Senator Brian Jones, a Republican from San Diego County who supported the legislation, doubted that the leaders in college sports would pull together quick reforms.