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Senator supports compensation for college athletes

February 26, 2020

College athletics have been a significant part of campus life for decades. Playing a sport is similar to a full-time job for athletes because of the long hours and time commitment. But student athletes don’t get the pay that comes with a normal job. Right now, paying a college athlete is not allowed in Nebraska because of NCAA rules. The Nebraska Fair Play to Pay Act seeks to change that, allowing college athletes to earn compensation from the use of their name, image or likeness use. For example, if the law passes, a UNO hockey player featured in a commercial would be able to be paid by the commercial company.
The Nebraska Fair Play to Pay Act was introduced on Jan. 13 by Senator Megan Hunt. On her Instagram, Senator Hunt wrote, “No other student is prohibited from earning income from their skill or talent except student athletes.” The bill would not require Nebraska colleges and universities to take any action. It would allow the university to make the choice to allow student athlete compensation instead.
Student athletes have long been frustrated by the NCAA’s ban on athlete compensation. For example, in 2017, University of Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye was running a successful monetized YouTube channel when he was told by the NCAA that he would have to demonetize or delete his channel in order to stay on the football team. De La Haye refused to delete his channel and subsequently lost his spot on the football team and his scholarship. He sued the NCAA in 2018 and returned to the university with a scholarship.
In October 2019, California became the first state to allow student athletes to be compensated for their image in advertisements. Governor Gavin Newsom said that not paying student athletes “puts institutions ahead of the students they’re supposed to serve.” States such as South Carolina and Florida have introduced similar bills.
The NCAA is currently in the process of allowing name, image and likeness rights. They expect to hold a vote in 2021 on if they should allow it or not. The NCAA is opposed to states introducing bills such as the Nebraska Fair Play to Pay Act, calling the California law “likely unconstitutional.” The organization wants to establish rules across all schools at once, not state by state.
Bills similar to the Nebraska Fair Play to Pay act have received strong bipartisan support. If the bill makes it to the legislature floor, it will be voted on before the end of April.
“Athletes give free labor for no compensation and at great risk to their health,” Senator Hunt said. “It’s time for Nebraska to pass the Fair Play for Pay Act.”

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