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Oklahoma, Mississippi Mull Pay-to-Play Legislation

Brock Fritz Headshot

Oklahoma and Mississippi are the latest states introducing pay-to-play legislation.

Oklahoma representatives Mickey Dollens and Monroe Nichols recently put forth legislation titled “fair pay to play,” while Mississippi Senator Joel Carter announced plans to file a bill during the 2020 legislative session.

The path to paying college athletes picked up steam when California passed its “Fair Pay to Play Act” in September, although it won’t be put into place until 2023. A number of states followed suit, while the NCAA voted unanimously in October to begin the process of allowing student-athletes the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness starting in Jan. 2021.

“I had been following the California law and the decision by the NCAA to allow this to happen,” Carter said, according to Y’all Politics. “It seems like every year a star college athlete suffers a career-ending injury and they never make it to the pros. A lot of the kids have nothing when they show up for college.

“The debate will be about scholarships and the college’s use of the student athlete’s image and likeness. Some think the student should have to pay the scholarship back and some say the college is making money off the student as well and the scholarship should be left alone. There is lots of debate and work to be done.”

Dollens, a former Division I football player at Southern Methodist University and Team USA bobsledder, is basing his pay for play ideas on the Olympic model.

“It was here that I learned that athletes aren’t paid a salary but they can earn endorsements, sponsorships. So that’s what they did to survive,” Dollens said, according to KWTV-DT out of Oklahoma City. “It’s not the universities or colleges paying the student athletes, it’s them earning endorsements on their name, likeness, and image.

“Students can use their name, likeness, and image to earn endorsements, monetize your YouTube accounts, to put on their own camps and clinics. I believe that student athletes should have the same rights as other students being able to participate in a capitalistic society, free-market society and use their talents to profit.”

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