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Oregon Senate passes bill allowing college athletes to get compensation for their name, image, likeness

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The Oregon State Digest
The Oregon State Digest
 2021-06-04

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(SALEM, Ore.) On Thursday, the Oregon Senate passed a bill on a 23-6 vote that would allow college athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness, OPB reports.

Senate Bill 5 would also allow athletes to hire sports agents to represent them in negotiations, as well as receive things like food, lodging and medical care as part of their compensation from third parties.

Senate President Peter Courtney proposed a nearly identical bill in the 2020 short session, but it never made it to the House after Republicans staged a walkout.

Other states have passed similar legislation, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey and New Mexico.

College sports have become a billion-dollar industry, and according to Sen. James Manning Jr., who co-sponsored the bill, student athletes deserve some compensation.

“They pay for it by pouring their blood, sweat and tears onto the field,” Manning said Tuesday on the floor. “It’s also an economic fairness issue. The NCAA and universities are profiting off our athletes, many of whom are Black and from low-income households, and preventing them from making any money for themselves. We have an opportunity to really make a difference in the lives of our college athletes.”

The bill is not exactly what was introduced in 2020, and Courtney explained why certain provisions were changed to his colleagues Thursday. According to Courtney, NCAA President Mark Emmert threatened a lawsuit unless the Oregon Legislature removed certain provisions that would’ve required universities to pay royalties to each member of a team under a merchandising agreement.

This aspect of the original proposal would’ve gone further than any other state has, by spreading compensation beyond just the star athletes on teams. Emmert said if this provision were in effect, the athletes would be considered employees and therefore unable to participate, according to Courtney.

Courtney also noted that the bill isn’t just about athletes like Justin Herbert and Marcus Mariota, but female athletes like Sabrina Ionescu, whose image the University of Oregon widely used.

“This bill is a remarkable first start. It goes even further than even the other states,” Courtney said. “Think of how many times you’ve seen a picture of one of these superstars. They don’t make a cent. Someone’s making millions off of them. You ought to live the life of one of them. They’re told what to do 24/7. They don’t get vacations. They practice them day and night. So I think it’s a good bill. Yes, I wish it was more, but this is the world I live in.”

The bill will now head to the House, where it will receive a vote next week.

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