California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law Monday, allowing NCAA players in the state to profit off their own images and likenesses starting in 2023.
The law will afford college athletes opportunities to earn money through endorsement deals, sponsorships, and autograph signings.
NCAA president Mark Emmert, who has long opposed the idea, believes the new legislation will blur the line between collegiate athletes and professional players.
"This is just a new form of professionalism and a different way of converting students into employees," Emmert told Dana Hunsinger Benbow of The Indianapolis Star. "(They may be) paid in a fashion different than a paycheck, but that doesn't make them not paid."
Under the law, collegiate athletes can hire agents to help negotiate endorsement deals. But Emmert says agents negotiating such deals would also be influencing their clients' decisions during the recruiting process.
"You bring another set of third parties in about what a student-athlete is going to get from school A to school B? It really starts changing the dynamic of a student going to a university," Emmert said. "For all intents and purposes, (the athletes) are employees."
Emmert is also concerned other states will follow California's lead.
"The other big issue is we simply can't have a national athletic association in charge of national tournaments and national championships if each state creates its own ... law," Emmert said. "You simply can't do that. It doesn't make sense. It can't be done."