Proposal to pay Minnesota college athletes introduced to Legislature

California is the only state to have passed such a law.
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Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan prepares to throw a pass against Penn State. 

Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan prepares to throw a pass against Penn State. 

Hitting the floor of the Minnesota legislature this week is a bill that aims to give student-athletes at most Minnesota colleges the opportunity to be paid for use of their name, image and likeness. 

Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes) and Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL-Shakopee) introduced the bill Wednesday, with Chamberlain announcing last October the plan to create a bill that mirrors the California bill that was passed into law last September, effectively allowing student-athletes at California universities to be compensated for use of their name, image and likeness. 

Such bills seek to redress the balance that has seen college sports become a multi-billion dollar enterprise based on the talents of athletes who aren't paid for their efforts, outside of the college education they're getting.

The Minnesota proposal states: "It is the intent of the legislature to continue to develop policies to ensure appropriate protections are in place to avoid exploitation of student athletes, colleges, and universities."

While most states are pursuing payment opportunities for student-athletes of Division I colleges and universities governed by the NCAA, the proposal in Minnesota also aims to create a working group to study the Minnesota College Athletic Conference's (MCAC) rules and regulations regarding the compensation of community college athletes.

The findings of such a study would be reported with recommendations to the legislature and MCAC by July 1, 2022. 

"A postsecondary educational institution shall not uphold any rule, requirement, standard, or other limitation that prevents a student of that institution participating in intercollegiate athletics from earning compensation as a result of the use of the student's name, image, or likeness," the proposal says. 

"Earning compensation from the use of a student's name, image, or likeness shall not affect the student's scholarship eligibility."

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The bill would not allow scholarships to be revoked in the event a student-athlete is being paid, and would also restrict colleges and athletic associations or conferences from disallowing athletes from hiring agents or professional representation of any kind. 

"Whether you’re a division one, two or three this is money making, and it’s entertainment, and people are getting wealthy off it," Chamberlain said last October, via MRP News. "So, the NCAA will not like it because the bill basically bars them from taking any action against the university or college or athlete for receiving compensation."

The threat of all 50 states passing their own college athlete compensation laws has put pressure on the NCAA or the federal government to step in and find a resolution that would work nationwide. 

"Having, in the end, 50 different state laws is a challenge to anything that’s trying to be operated at a national level around the country,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in December, according to the Washington Post.

The law in California will go into effect in 2023. 

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