By DONOVAN HARRELL
Two Pennsylvania state representatives are planning to introduce a bill that would allow college student-athletes to receive endorsements, mirroring a law recently passed in California.
On Sept. 30, California became the first state to sign a bill into law that would, among other things, prevent California colleges and universities, athletic associations and conferences, such as the NCAA, from excluding student-athletes from competition if they receive compensation for their name, image and likeness.
The law, known as the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” doesn’t apply to community colleges and won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2023 if it goes unchallenged.
Allegheny Democratic Reps. Dan Miller and Ed Gainey both announced on Sept. 30 that they would push a similar bill to the floor in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. It also wouldn’t apply to community colleges.
“Athletes are forced to give up their rights and economic freedom while the colleges make hundreds of millions of dollars off of their talent and likeness,” Miller said in a news release. “This bill would help to balance the scales by allowing them to sign endorsements, earn compensation, and hire agents to represent their interests in exchange for the work they do and the benefit provided to the college.”
Gainey said current laws allow for student-athletes to be exploited by numerous parties.
“Our student-athletes give their blood, sweat and tears to a sport they love, while colleges, universities and corporations reap the financial benefits of their work,” Gainey said in a news release. “If a college football head coach can earn $4.8 million for coaching ‘amateur student-athletes,’ and if corporations can earn billions of dollars using the players’ names and faces, then how is it not fair for them to earn some sort of financial compensation? The chances of a professional contract, and thus a payout for all of their hard work and pain, are tiny, and we owe it to them to level the playing field.”
John Swofford — commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, of which Pitt is a member — took a defensive stance on the law, saying that colleges and universities already provide substantial benefits for student-athletes.
“This is a complicated issue that needs to be addressed holistically, and not state by state,” Swofford said in a statement. “Several recent changes approved by schools and conferences have led to additional benefits, which is necessary as we continue to be progressive in modernizing and enhancing the benefits provided to every student-athlete, while staying within the principles of amateurism. Our country is unique in annually providing hundreds of thousands of students the opportunity to combine higher education with athletics. We will continue to have discussions about this issue and the impact it will have on our membership.”
It’s not yet clear when the bill will be introduced, but the Democratic representatives said it will be unveiled “soon.”
Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-383-9905.
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