State lawmakers are pushing ahead a bill to allow New Jersey’s college athletes to begin earning money for the use of their name, image and likeness – to endorse products, for example – in the midst of a growing national debate over the issue of paying players.
The bill’s passage in the state Senate comes after the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which governs college athletics across the country, announced plans in October to lift a ban on compensation for athletes.
That process end could take years on the NCAA’s—its three divisions have until January 2021 to create the new rules. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 971, which passed Monday, would take effect at the start of the “fifth academic year” following the bill’s signing.
To date, 30 states have shown interest in allowing athletes to make money off endorsements, after California became the first state to enact such a measure in September.
“That patchwork of laws is not necessarily” the best, said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joe Lagana, D-38th District. “The best way to do this is nationally.”
But, “by each state coming out and pushing forth legislation, it’s going to force the NCAA to enact its rules and regulations,” he added.
Congress may opt to weigh in and enact federal legislation, according to Politico. But to Lagana, the bill’s effective date after five years was crafted specifically so that state lawmakers can wait and see what happens at the national level.
Like the proposals the NCAA rolled out in October, universities in the state would not be allowed to ban students from earning money for an endorsement, and the use of their “name, image and likeness.”
The Monday legislation goes further, by not allowing students to make money off adult entertainment, alcohol, gambling, tobacco and electronic cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, drugs and firearms.
Also, the bill would not allow student athlete compensation to have any effect on the student financial aid they receive – just because they receive income would not mean the university could reduce their scholarship, for example.
“The restrictions currently placed on our student-athletes are fundamentally unfair. Far too many people at the NCAA earn exorbitant amounts of money off of the blood, sweat and tears of talented young New Jerseyans in this state and, frankly, across the country,” Lagana said in a Monday statement.
The prospect of a mismatching patchwork of state laws across the country did not bode well with state senators, including several Democrats, and the measure garnered just the minimum 21 votes needed in the upper house.
“They sent a strong message to the NCAA and to Congress that New Jersey wants to be included in this and we want a fair and equitable system,” Sen. Budget Chair Paul Sarlo, D-36th District, said Monday afternoon. “I believe it accomplished a lot … We should hit the pause button here.”