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Bills would let college athletes profit from endorsements

Person preparing to throw a football

State lawmakers want to allow Michigan college athletes to make endorsement deals. Legislation introduced Wednesday would also allow college athletes to hire agents and be paid for the use of their name, image, or likeness.

Representative Joe Tate is a Democrat from Detroit. He played football for Michigan State University. He says if colleges and coaches can make money off the popularity of sports, so should athletes.

“So we want to ensure that we are empowering them, giving them an opportunity through their name, image, and likeness to see if they can be compensated for that,” he says.

Republican state Representative Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo) says it’s not fair that colleges and businesses can make money off the value created by college athletes – but the athletes themselves cannot.

“The billion-dollar business of college athletics is built upon the labor of student athletes. TV contracts, merchandise sales, and advertising deals with universities and conferences rise in value every year.”

Iden was a college tennis player.

The bills would not allow athletes to be paid directly for playing, but athletes could still get sports scholarships. The NCAA is also drafting new rules for compensating college athletes. Those are supposed to be ready by January of 2021.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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