JEFFERSON CITY — Following the lead of California, Missouri lawmakers have introduced a proposal to allow college athletes to profit from their name and image.
Rep. Nick Schroer, an O’Fallon Republican, filed legislation Tuesday to let athletes make money off their fame. Rep. Wes Rogers, D-Kansas City, plans to introduce a similar plan later this month, with an eye on debating the issue when lawmakers return to action in January.
“I think that it’s just time to make sure these kids are able to — I hate to use the word ‘profit’ — but able to just get what’s fair after they put their hearts and souls into these programs,” Rogers said.
In September, California jump-started what has become a national conversation about compensation for student athletes with the passage of the Fair Pay to Play Act, which goes into effect in 2023.
In October, the Illinois House approved similar legislation, which allows college athletes to sign paid endorsement deals and hire agents while preserving their scholarships and NCAA eligibility.
Legislators in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and South Carolina are pushing similar measures backed by supporters who say players are the driving force behind billions of dollars in revenue for the NCAA, universities and colleges.
In response, the NCAA voted to ask its three divisions to draw up new rules on the issue by January 2021.
Rogers, a Democrat in the Republican-led Missouri House, said he was hopeful the NCAA’s recent denial of Mizzou’s appeal of sanctions would generate momentum for his bill, or one like it.
“I really don’t think this is a partisan issue,” he said.
In a sign that the issue has momentum in Missouri, the National College Players Association has retained the lobbying services of Kansas City-based Catalyst Group, which also represents other sports-related businesses like Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the PGA Tour.
The NCPA played a role in guiding the new law through the legislative process in California.
The concept has the support of University of Missouri men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, who earlier said he would have liked extra money when he was in college.
But, Martin said there will be a need for the NCAA to address the logistics of how any change in law will be enforced.
Rogers said student athletes at other NCAA schools in Missouri, not just at Mizzou, should be able to make money from their likenesses.
“We have a lot of NCAA institutions in the state,” Rogers said. “So it’s not just about Mizzou.”
Under one provision of Schroer’s legislation, athletes would not be allowed to wear logos of sponsors during any official team activities.
Athletes also would have to disclose their sponsors to college officials, but those records could not be made public, the legislation notes.
If approved, the legislation would not go into effect until 2023.
The legislation is House Bill 1564.
Jack Suntrup of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report