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LeBron James expresses support for California college athlete compensation bill

LeBron James levied further criticism against the NCAA in a series of tweets Thursday. (John Bazemore/AP)

The Fair Pay to Play Act, a California bill that would help student-athletes profit from use of their likeness, received a passionate and public show of support Thursday from LeBron James.

“Everyone is California- call your politicians and tell them to support SB 206!” James tweeted. “This law is a GAME CHANGER.”

The Los Angeles Lakers star followed up by saying that legislation like this was “overdue.”

Introduced in February, the bill would prevent California schools from taking away the scholarships or eligibility of any athlete making money from endorsements. It also allows players to use an attorney or agent for business deals without punishment. It would not require schools to pay their players.

The bill, which could set an important precedent for college athletes if passed, has been met with opposition from the NCAA and some schools and universities in the state.

After the bill was approved by a 31-4 state senate vote in May, NCAA president Mark Emmert wrote a letter asking that California legislators delay a second, deciding vote while the NCAA and its member schools could review the potential impacts.

Emmert wrote that the bill could “create local differences that would make it impossible to host fair national championships,” implying California schools may not be able to participate if the bill is passed.

Stanford and USC are among the schools that have come out against the bill. The bill is aimed at public or private schools in California that make more than $10,000,000 in annual media rights revenue.

If approved, the bill would become law in 2023.

James’s tweets marked the latest instance of him criticizing the NCAA. In early August, James, who went straight to the NBA out of high school as the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, tweeted his distaste for a new NCAA rule that would require agents to hold a four-year college degree.

James dubbed it the Rich Paul Rule, after his agent, who has become one of the NBA’s biggest power brokers and does not hold such a degree. James was not the only person to speak out against the change, and the NCAA reversed the decision days later.

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