Gov. Gavin Newsom of California signed into law a plan to allow college athletes to strike endorsement deals, intensifying the legal and political clashes that could ultimately transform the economics of college sports.
The governor’s signature opened a new front of legal pressure against the amateurism model that has been foundational to college sports but has restricted generations of students from earning money while on athletic rosters.
The state’s rebuke of a system that generates billions of dollars each year went against powerful universities, including California, Stanford and Southern California. The schools said the law would put their athletes in danger of being barred from routine competitions and showcase events like the College Football Playoff and the men’s and women’s N.C.A.A. basketball tournaments, made-for-TV moments that help some universities log more than $100 million each in annual athletic revenue.
In its statement, the N.C.A.A. said it “agrees changes are needed to continue to support student-athletes, but improvement needs to happen on a national level through the N.C.A.A.’s rules-making process.”
The N.C.A.A. has signaled that it may ask the courts to block the law before it takes effect in 2023. A legal challenge could hinge on the constitutional provision that grants Congress the authority to oversee interstate commerce.