Senators discuss system for paying college athletes


WASHINGTON D.C. (WCMH) — College athletes will soon be able to make money off their name, image and likeness after the NCAA signaled earlier this year it was open to athletes making money from endorsements.

Now, Congress wants to make sure there’s one system in place to keep things fair as more states are passing laws to regulate how college athletes can make money while at school.

“Is there anybody here on the panel that does not believe that there is a need for a nationwide standard?” asked South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune.

Thune got no disagreement from senators or college sports experts during Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the issue.

“The question for us is how do we protect the athlete?” asked Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Even though the NCAA has decided it will allow college athletes to make money from endorsement deals, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey told senators he’s worried about the NCAA going professional.

“We must not allow college athletics to devolve into a pay-for-play system,” Sankey said.

Meanwhile, Thune worried about the impact on which schools athletes choose to attend.

“If this becomes a money issue, how it could affect that recruiting process,” Thune said.

But Dionne Koller, director of the Center for Sport and the Law, told senators she is concerned the NCAA will put its own best interests above its athletes.

“Rather than seeking protection from Congress seeking to impose economic restraints on athletes, the NCAA should craft rules that better support athletes health safety and well being,” Koller said.

This is at least the second time senators have explored the issue, but there’s no consensus on when legislation might get a vote.

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