LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) — It has been a full term since collegiate athletes became legally eligible to get paid for sponsorships. A UC San Diego tennis player reflects on her first quarter as a paid athlete.
UC San Diego is known for its academic rigor. Junior Sophie Pearson studies Nanoengineering.
"Vaccines, drug delivery, that sort of stuff," Pearson said.
But now that the school is Division 1, it is also making a name for itself in sports. The Longmont, Colorado native is the number one player for the triton women.
"We're very competitive, and I think we are improving… getting better as a team," Pearson said.
Last fall, Pearson also became a sponsored athlete.
"I was fortunate enough to have people reach out to me," Pearson said.
In August, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the "Fair Pay to Play" Act, which allows college student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness.
"You post images of yourself on your story or a regular feed and tag them, and they give you your own personal code for other people to use," Pearson said.
Her coach Liz LaPlante said she welcomes the new opportunity.
"They don't have time to get full-time jobs or part-time jobs because of all the time they are on the court and studying, so this way they can make a little extra money on the side," LaPlante said.
Pearson said that money is not anything earth-shattering, like if she were Olympic gold medalist Sunisa Lee. But it is money she spends on gas and groceries. She says she is happy for the opportunity and hopes others join in.
"I thought it was a great chance for smaller athletes to have a part-time job in a way," Pearson said. "So it's nice to have a little bonus."
The "Fair Pay to Play" Act allows athletes at all levels, including community colleges, to get sponsorships.