Will California's New Law Put Another Nail In The Amateur Status Coffin?

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On the surface, major upheaval in college golf seems unlikely when California Governor Gavin Newsom likely signs the assembly bill allowing college athletes to profit off their likeness.

(Steve Berkowitz’s USA Today report here at Golfweek.com.)

This last paragraph in Berkowit’z piece clarifies the student athlete relationship with their school’s official shoe and apparel deals:

The amendments added by the Assembly include provisions designed to address potential conflicts between prospective athlete deals and school deals, such as shoe-and-apparel contracts. An athlete would not be allowed to have a deal that conflicts with a school contract, but a school contract would not be allowed to restrict an athlete from using their name, image and likeness for a commercial purpose when not engaged in official team activities.

While players now get free clubs, are on a first name basis with tour reps, wear corporate logos in the US Amateur and are committed to agents long before announcing the intent to turn pro, amateur status would seem to be a out the window once a player starts profiting off their likeness. The rules are pretty clear on this front.

However, exceptions for Tony Romo and Lucy Li would seem to open a player profiting off their likeness to point to those cases as amateur status-retaining precedent and therefore maintain access to USGA events or the Masters (should they be so fortunate).

The NCAA’s rebuttal is not expected until next month but given the number of athletes and schools in California, they’ll have a hard time containing this given the bill’s easy victory and support from top athletes.

It’s a huge mess, but one brought on by the NCAA’s refusal to find a solution as it rakes in millions and pays its head man $4 million a year on the backs of unpaid athletes.