Stanford volleyball star Hayley Hodson was named the 2015 National Freshman of the Year, and seemed destined for a future that included national titles, the Olympics, and endorsement deals. Then, she suffered a head injury that destroyed her hopes go pro. Hodson worked hard to to make sure she didn't run afoul of any NCAA rules so that she would be able to benefit from her name and likeness when she turned pro, and now those opportunities were gone. Today, a California bill, the 'Fair Pay to Play Act', is hoping to change that, and allow amateur athletes to profit while in school.
"This bill is really personal to me because I have long been frustrated by the NCAA's ban on student-athletes being able to own their name, image, and likeness," Hodson explained.
The California Senate has already passed the bill, and it's on it's way to Governor Gavin Newsom's desk.
"What this bill would do is start the ball rolling," she added. "Just giving student athletes the freedom to advocate for themselves, earn their own media contracts, and be able to negotiate ways that they can support themselves."
Hodson believes there's no longer a place in society for the NCAA's current system.
"Amateurism as a system is antiquated," she said. "In our modern day and age, especially with the ease and prolific presence of both digital media and social media, it no longer makes any sense to ban a student athlete from retaining their own media rights."
"It's a system that has been set up to profit the people in power, and it's a system that exploits unpaid labor," the former volleyball star added, saying media and endorsements currently bring in the most the most revenue to those in power, so the pushback comes as "they stand to probably lose some of their multibillion dollar purse of revenue while student athletes stand to gain, not millions, but small amounts on a person-by-person basis."
Despite the NCAA's objections, and claims that the bill is harmful and unconstitutional, Hodson is confident that amateur athletes will be able to profit from their own names in the future.
"Right now what we're seeing is a movement, and those arguments won't hold out for long," she said.