Campaign to pay college athletes may come to Florida

Fireworks at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. Source: Wikimedia

The Florida House’s Democratic leader plans to file legislation allowing college athletes to earn money through endorsement deals.

Rep. Kionne McGhee of Cutler Bay said Friday that his bill would allow athletes to use their name, image, and likeness in advertising.

“The NCAA regularly earns more than $1 billion per year, but these student athletes aren’t allowed to accept a bag of groceries. Many of these kids aren’t from families that can afford to send them money, but they’re sports superstars and household names,” McGhee said in a written statement.

“That’s not fair. It’s time we allowed these adults the ability to earn a living for themselves and their families while they make a fortune for others and entertain millions of fans.”

The California Legislature has already approved similar legislation and sent it to Gov. Gavin Newsom, amid protests from the NCAA. A proposal in South Carolina would let athletes accept compensation from endorsements and autograph signing, and also allow colleges to pay $5,000 stipends to athletes participating in big money-earning sports like football and basketball.

Meanwhile, a state senator in New York wants to allow endorsements and require a 15 percent revenue-sharing arrangement for college athletes.

“The insistence that college athletes follow a strict definition of being ‘non-professionals’ is a holdover from decades ago and doesn’t accurately reflect modern college athletics,” McGhee said. “They often risk serious injury against other world-class athletes and deserve the right to use their skills to put food on their tables and provide for their families. This is the right thing to do.”

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