JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Lawmakers from both parties are talking about allowing college athletes to be paid since the NCAA is pocketing millions off of them.
The bill’s supporters say this would be similar to the change made when US Olympic athletes were allowed to earn compensation.
The lawmakers behind the proposed legislation say there are many hard-working student athletes who deserve to make a few extra bucks.
“Right now if an offense of lineman at Mizzou wants to sign autographs on his own time or shoot a commercial for a local car dealership he couldn’t accept compensation for that,” said state Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon).
Supporters believe superstar athletes are already getting backroom deals.
“Student athletes are being paid all over the country and the universities and the boosters that do that very rarely get punished,” said state Rep. Wes Rogers (D- Kansas City).
A representative from the National College Players Association testified before the House General Laws Committee in support of the proposed legislation.
“NCAA Sports have put together an amazing product,” said Ramogi Huma, with the National Basketball Players Association. “But players are a partner in this but they’ve never had the same economic freedoms so they’re in a version special place, they’ve earned it.”
The bills’ sponsors say their bills have protections built in that limit sponsorships such as clothing deals.
“It wouldn’t prevent the schools from hiring and putting in place blockades such as not wearing advertisement during student activities this would just allow people to make ends meet by working hard whether it’s a YouTube having an advertising channel there or going out and marketing themselves off of the field,” Schroer said.
California recently became the first state to allow college athlete compensation.
“The only solution that’s really going to work long-term has got to be a national solution because if you have 50 states that are operating in 50 different ways it’s going to be a mess for everybody but you’ve got to start somewhere in the NCAA has made it clear it’s not going to start with them so hopefully we can be the catalyst for some real change,” Rogers said.
A hearing on a third bill similar to the two heard in committee is expected to take place later this week.