Proposed Bill Would Let Student-Athletes Get Paid

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A bill proposed by a Washington state legislator would circumvent NCAA rules and allow student-athletes in the state to be paid for endorsements.

According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the proposal was drafted by state Rep. Drew Stokesbary. The proposal reads, “The legislature finds that every student enrolled at an institution of higher education in this state should have an equal right: To earn compensation for services provided; to be paid for the use of his or her name, image, and likeness; and to hire agents to represent the student’s interests. The legislature further finds that students should not be compelled to choose between forfeiting these rights and participating in intercollegiate athletic competitions.”

If adopted by the legislature, the bill would essentially make it illegal for the NCAA to enforce its rules against the state’s student-athletes for accepting pay for endorsements or hiring agents. Of course, how such a situation would work out in practice leaves open many questions.

A showdown with the NCAA over a player accepting a payment could lead to the body sanctioning a university. If the proposal were to become law, the state could begin to challenge any NCAA sanctions. However, that would potentially leave an entire team in limbo. Would a school be willing to sacrifice participation in a major bowl game or the NCAA tournament while such a case were litigated?

Stokesbary, a top member of the House Appropriations Committee, admits that issues with proposed legislation would need be addressed before it could become law. However, the proposal could start a conversation surrounding one of the most controversial topics plaguing college athletics.

“I think it’s okay if we pay college athletes,” Stokesbary told the Spokesman-Review. “But people are split on this.”

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