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The Texas Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday that would allow college athletes in the state to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness, as dozens of states across the country consider similar legislation.
Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, who authored the bill, said allowing athletes to enter into these contracts would maintain recruiting competition for universities in the state as they wait for the NCAA or the federal government to approve national rules governing the issue.
“It is time for Texas to decide if we are or are not OK with sitting on the sidelines as other states around the country show that they value and respect college athletes from the state of Texas,” Creighton said on the Senate floor.
Some other lawmakers begrudgingly supported the bill, claiming the change would negatively impact college athletics which should be played “for the love of the game” rather than compensation which some feared would have negative consequences on collegiate athletics.
The proposal would not allow student athletes to be compensated for playing a university sport, it would only lift a ban on allowing student athletes to be paid by outside parties. Currently, students who accept money for their stature as college athletes could lose eligibility to play in the NCAA.
College athletes, under the legislation, would also be allowed to also hire an agent to represent them. It also requires athletes to take a financial literacy workshop during their first and third years. Student athletes would still be barred from entering into contracts with particular industries, including alcohol, tobacco products, casino gambling, a firearm the student athlete can’t legally purchase or a "sexually oriented" business.
Creighton called on the federal government to adopt a nationwide system regarding the issue, which the NCAA has also supported over individual legislation by states. At least seven states have passed similar legislation since California first passed a law in 2019. The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard opening arguments in the case NCAA vs Alston over the issue.
Some senators who supported the bill argued college athletes deserve to benefit financially.
“The biggest winner in this needs to be all of the student athletes,” said Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio. “We gain entertainment. Universities gain revenue, and they need to share in that because of their hard work.”
The bill now heads to the Texas House for consideration. If passed, the law will go in effect Sept. 1.
Mississippi and Florida have both passed legislation that will go in effect as early as July 1, though the NCAA could sue and file an injunction to stop these payments without the federal government’s official ruling. This week, Alabama also passed similar legislation. Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska and New Jersey have also passed similar legislation. A federal ruling would render all state laws moot.
The NCAA Board of Governors had voted to allow players to be paid for their name or likeness in October 2019, but the Division I Council postponed a vote on specific rules in January as they continued discussions with the federal government over rules.
Experts say most athletes would not see a huge financial windfall from the changes, except for star football or basketball players.