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N.Y. senator proposes bill to pay college athletes

UniqueThis 5 Sep 18
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12:05 PM ET

A state senator from Brooklyn is aiming to make New York the first state to require colleges to pay student-athletes directly.

Sen. Kevin Parker proposed a bill earlier this week that would give college athletes the right to sell the rights to their own names, images and likenesses. Parker told ESPN on Wednesday that he has since added an amendment that would require college athletic departments to give a 15% share of annual revenue to student-athletes.

The revenue, Parker said, would be divided equally among all student-athletes who compete for the school.

"It's about equity," Parker said. "These young people are adding their skill, talent and labor to these universities. ... You don't need the shortcuts and the end-arounds because now we're providing some real support for these student-athletes."

Parker said he modeled his initial proposal after California's Fair Pay to Play Act, which passed the state's assembly and senate with unanimous votes earlier this month. The California bill would make it illegal for colleges in that state to take away an athlete's scholarship or eligibility as punishment for accepting endorsement money. California Gov. Gavin Newsom will decide sometime in the next month whether to sign the bill into law.

Nancy Skinner, the state senator who wrote California's bill, said she hoped that other states would adopt similar policies. Politicians in South Carolina, Maryland, Colorado, Washington and now New York have all discussed creating laws to change the way college athletes are compensated. Mark Walker, a U.S. congressman from North Carolina, has proposed changing federal laws to create a similar effect nationwide.

Prior to the amendment in Parker's bill, no other state had proposed giving college athletes money directly from their schools.

The NCAA has publicly opposed California's bill in letters sent to legislators during the past several months. Michael Drake, the chair of the NCAA's board of governors, said he is concerned that making money in college athletics could blur an important line between professional leagues and amateur college sports.

The NCAA has assembled a working group of university presidents, athletic directors and conference commissioners to examine ways in which the national body could modernize or evolve its rules for compensating athletes. That group is expected to report its findings in October.

New York's legislative session runs from January through June. Parker said he has the support of one other senator thus far and is searching for a co-sponsor in the state assembly. He said he hopes to make his bill a high priority when the legislature reconvenes at the start of the year.