Fair Pay to Play law to change college recruiting, former Razorback says


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A new law in California that will allow college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness could change the way college sports programs operate, including at the University of Arkansas.

California Gov. Gavin Newsome passed Senate Bill 206, or the Fair Pay to Play Act, on Monday. The law will go into effect 2023 and is expected to face many challenges through the courts. This puts the state’s law at odds with the NCAA.

Taiwan Johnson is a former Razorback football defensive end, and he said the bill will change recruiting across the country. He said he thinks other states, including Arkansas, will have to propose similar changes in legislation to keep up.

“I feel like it’s hard enough trying to recruit [elite players] as it is,” Johnson said. “It will be harder. I wish I could come up with a solution, but I’m not that smart. I know one thing that just happened is California definitely has changed the game.”

Johnson played for the Razorbacks from 2013-16 and played in 39 total games, registering 87 total tackles and 8.5 sacks. He said his recruiting process may have gone differently if this bill were introduced nearly a decade ago.

“I love Arkansas, and if I had to do it all over again, I would probably pick Arkansas again,” Johnson said. “I was being recruited by a California school, and I won’t say the name. After my Arkansas visit, I scratched it off the list. Now, I probably wouldn’t.”

Johnson said the California schools should see a significant increase in top-tier talent that would normally opt for Southeastern Conference stalwarts like Alabama, Louisiana State and Georgia.

“Think about schools like Cal, UCLA, USC speaks for itself,” Johnson said. “Most people are gonna think, ‘USC offered me, I’m gonna go there.’ San Diego State, San Jose State.”

Johnson said the key to Arkansas continuing to succeed until crafting a similar law will be to develop under-recruited talent.

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