Economics

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Washington State Lawmaker: Let’s Give College Athletes Money

23 Jan, 2019

By: Michael Popke

College football has wound down, March Madness is gearing up and NCAA women’s beach volleyball is on the horizon – all of them bringing TV coverage and publicity to colleges – and the age-old debate about whether varsity athletes should be allowed to accept money.

The Jan. 8 headline in The Spokesman-Review out of Spokane, Wash., spoke volumes: Bill says defy NCAA, let college athletes accept pay.

The accompanying news article detailed a proposalfrom Republican State Rep. Drew Stokesbary that would allow college athletes in Washington to be paid by sponsors or companies seeking their endorsements.

“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 proposal reads. “The legislature further finds that students should not be compelled to choose between forfeiting these rights and participating in intercollegiate athletic competitions.”

Here is how The Spokesman-Review explained the proposal: “Stokesbary said his proposal … would cover a company like Nike paying University of Washington quarterback Jake Browning to appear in a shoe commercial and receive a payment similar to what Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson receives. It wouldn’t allow a booster of the Gonzaga University basketball team to pay point guard Josh Perkins to herd alligators on the GU campus. … The proposal doesn’t address whether the schools themselves could have rules against their athletes receiving payments for endorsements or appearances.”

While the NCAA has long disallowed college athletes from receiving payments for endorsements or hiring agents, the paper added that “the bill would make it a violation of the state’s consumer protection law to enforce those rules against college athletes in Washington.”

Stokesbary told The Spokesman-Review he doesn’t think his bill will become law this year. He said he’s more interested in starting the conversation, adding that he and his staff could not find a similar proposal in another state.

“I think it’s OK if we pay college athletes,” he said. “But people are split on this.”

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