WASHINGTON — Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran announced a proposal Wednesday to allow college athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness.
The bill is one of several pending in Congress that seek to remedy what critics see as unfair and outdated arrangement. Student-athletes are barred from making endorsement deals even as their success enables universities and the NCAA to rake in millions from ticket sales, TV contracts and corporate sponsors.
“It is no secret that college athletics have grown into an increasingly profitable, billion dollar industry, however the rules surrounding athlete compensation have not been modernized,” said Moran, who noted that multiple universities in Kansas boast top-tier athletics programs.
The push to allow student-athletes to broker their own endorsement deals has attracted bipartisan support. Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver last year introduced similar legislation in the House, calling it “a civil rights issue.”
The introduction of Moran’s bill comes roughly one year after University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod urged senators to adopt a national standard for student-athlete compensation. This followed California’s passage of a law to allow college athletes to earn money from their name, image and likeness. Since that time, Florida passed a similar measure and multiple other states are weighing their own proposals, including Kansas.
Moran warned that a patchwork of inconsistent state laws could lead to “a confusing system ... that would be cumbersome for schools and athletes to navigate.”
A federal law would supersede the state statutes and enable KU basketball players, for example, to enter into endorsement contracts under same rules as their peers in other states. KU said in a statement that a national standard “will provide a level playing field for all NCAA members.”
Moran’s bill would also set new responsibilities for universities to cover the cost of their student-athletes’ health care after their playing period has ended.
Universities making $50 million or more from athletics, such as KU, which is projecting $70 million in revenue this fiscal year, would be required to pay for treatment of a student-athlete’s sports-related injuries for four years after their last game.
Universities making between $20 million and $50 million from athletics would be required to cover the costs for two years.