LANSING — Lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to bills that would clear the way for college athletes to be paid for the use of their names, images or likeness rights — putting Michigan on the cusp of becoming at least the fourth state with such a law.
In-state schools, the NCAA and athletic conferences could not block student-athletes from being compensated under a bill that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign. A second measure would no longer make it a crime for agents to enter into contracts with student-athletes.
The NCAA, pressured by states that started acting on their own, is drawing up new rules to let athletes become paid sponsors – able to earn money for endorsement deals, for appearances and for promoting products or events on social media accounts.
Michigan’s legislation, approved 35-3 by the Senate, largely would take effect starting in 2023. California, Florida and Colorado also have enacted laws targeting the NCAA’s ban on compensation for college athletes.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to review a lower court decision that barred the NCAA from capping education-related compensation and benefits for athletes in Division I football and basketball programs.
“We can’t expect the NCAA to get its act together and do the right thing, and we shouldn’t wait for federal court cases that have been going on for years to be resolved. We must act now right here in Michigan to treat all students fairly, including our student-athletes,” said a bill sponsor, Republican Rep. Brandt Iden of Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township. “This is a long overdue reform focused on civil liberties and free market principles – simply allowing student-athletes to promote themselves and make a few extra dollars, just like their classmates already are allowed to do.”