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Roger Chamberlain

Minn. lawmaker wants to allow student-athletes to accept pay for play

ST. PAUL — A Minnesota lawmaker says he wants college athletes in the state to be able to benefit financially from the use of their names and likenesses.

State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, drafted a bill would let collegiate athletes accept compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness and retain licensed agents to represent them without risking their scholarships. The bill would require colleges and universities or athletic leagues like the NCAA let athletes receiving endorsements compete.

The senator posted his proposal to Facebook on Tuesday, Oct. 22, drawing more than a dozen responses.

The move comes weeks after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the first-in-the-nation Fair Pay for Play Act, a proposal that allows college athletes to recruit agents or to accept endorsement deals beginning in 2023. The law runs counter to the NCAA's rules. Several other states have taken up similar legislation following California.

Chamberlain said he brought the bill as a matter of fairness to the athletes who have missed out on potential earning as their universities or the NCAA profit off of their likenesses. The schools or the national association wouldn't have to pay athletes under the proposal, but they couldn't prevent them from making money from other sources that use their image beginning in 2024.

"Colleges and the NCAA have been getting rich off these players. It shouldn't just be these institutions making all the money," Chamberlain said. "That's the core of this."

NCAA officials have defended the association's rules barring endorsements and the use of agents, saying athletes should have to choose whether they want to play in the NCAA or pursue professional sports.

The change could also help Minnesota colleges and universities recruit local athletes that might be looking at programs outside the state, Chamberlain said. And the proposal could allow athletes at smaller schools to make money by allowing local shops or businesses to use their likeness in ads or promotions.

Chamberlain's measure would also set up a workgroup to oversee the use of student-athlete names, images and likenesses by two-year community colleges in Minnesota.

Legislative leaders have yet to weigh in on the idea, but Gov. Tim Walz earlier this month said he was willing to consider it. Minnesota lawmakers are set to return to St. Paul for the 2020 legislative session on Feb. 11.