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State legislators debate paid endorsements for student athletes

The “Fair Pay to Play Act” passed in California would allow student-athletes to be paid for their image and likeness through endorsements, sponsorships and othe...

The “Fair Pay to Play Act” passed in California would allow student-athletes to be paid for their image and likeness through endorsements, sponsorships and other similar business opportunities.

Some Connecticut legislators believe this could positively impact men and women of all sports.

“I think that this will show equity and show fairness that would absolutely benefit Connecticut and our student-athletes,” said Sen. Derek Slap.

Senator Slap is seeking Connecticut legislation similar to the “Fair Pay to Play Act”.

“We need to look at this. We need to have a conversation because if we are left out and there’s a lot of other states that are doing it but it could absolutely have an effect to recruit,” said Sen. Slap.

The bipartisan bill passed unanimously through California legislature.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on LeBron James’ HBO Show “The Shop”.

“It’s going to initiate dozens of other states to make similar legislation and it’s going to change college sports for the better,” said Gov. Newsom.

The law doesn’t allow schools to pay athletes. Instead, it allows athletes to hire an agent to seek out business for them. Athletes could obtain sponsorships like any other professional athlete as long as the brand doesn’t conflict with any existing school sponsorships.

The signing received support from professional athletes long in support of student-athlete compensation.

“The universities would’ve been able to capitalize on everything that I would’ve done there for that year or two,” said LeBron James. “I understand what those kids are going through and I feel for those kids.”

UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Randy Edsall have been supporters of paying college athletes in the past.

“I hope every state in the union passes the bill,” said Edsall. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The NCAA says the “Fair Pay to Play Act” will upend the competitive balance of the NCAA.

In a letter sent to Governor Newsom on September 11th the NCAA said in part quote:

"If the bill becomes law and California’s 58 NCAA schools are compelled to allow an unrestricted name, image and likeness scheme, it would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions."

Quinnipiac University Associate Professor and Co-Director of Sports Studies Richard Hanley believes much of the concern in paying athletes is from false information.

“It’s just acknowledging the college sports is an entertainment and athletes are the entertainers. The best of the athletes should be compensated if their names, likenesses and images are used to promote the NCAA,” said Hanley.

Hanley believes this is a chance for athletes outside of the major programs to get compensated for their efforts before going pro in something other than sports.

“I do think there’s an opportunity for athletes of those minor sports to at least attract a local endorsement,” said Hanley.

The Fair Pay to Play Act will not go into effect in California until January 2023.

Hanley believes other states and the NCAA will come to an agreement with California before then.

Sen. Slap hopes to begin work on a similar bill during this next legislative session.