SINCE she was six, Haley Craig has been playing soccer in hopes of continuing after high school. That dream came true when she committed to Stanford, a private university in California, to play soccer after she graduates DHS in two years.
Now, thanks to a California law that will go into effect in 2023, Craig will have the chance to earn money from endorsements while at Stanford, an opportunity previously unheard of for college athletes.
The law, dubbed the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” gives college athletes in California the opportunity to sign endorsements and hire agents. This goes directly against the current NCAA bylaws which prohibit collegiate athletes from profiting from such deals. This has led to much controversy over the effects the law will have on athletes and the NCAA as a whole. For athletes, the law is a chance to earn money that previously would only be available to those who play professionally.
“I think it’s good actually, especially for women,” Craig said of the law. “Obviously women don’t make as much as men, so it’s actually better for us to go to college and take our scholarship than to go pro. With the endorsements it’s really nice because you can get both, so I support it.”
Craig has played goalkeeper for the Michigan Hawks since she was eight before making the switch to the Jaguars this year. During this time, she was able to earn a scholarship from Stanford to play for their team, but that wasn’t the only school that she was able to gain the attention of; Craig was also recruited by over a dozen other colleges including Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State from the Big Ten Conference. While making her decision, there was no legislation allowing athletes to get paid so Craig had to decide based on other factors.
“It was a choice I had to make,” Craig said, “because obviously at the time I couldn’t get endorsements or anything so I had to choose the scholarship over that, and I had to weigh the amount of money I would make if I went pro versus going to college.”
Craig won’t be able to earn money from endorsements until the law goes into effect in 2023, at the end of her sophomore year in college. While the law won’t affect most current college athletes, high schoolers like Craig who are committing to play collegiate athletics now must weigh the prospect of endorsements in their school decision.
As the movement grows, more states may follow the path that California has blazed and create their own similar laws. Already, three other states (Illinois, New York, and South Carolina) plan on introducing their own legislature to give college athletes an opportunity to make money.
As she goes into her junior year at Dexter, Craig will continue working on her game and preparing to leave for Stanford in 2021. Now, with the added benefit of endorsements ahead, she can look forward to earning the type of money she would have if she had chosen to play professionally due to the revolutionary “Fair Pay to Play Act.”
With this, California has opened a path that will seemingly continue to grow from here and affect thousands of athletes like Craig.