Lawmakers, varsity athletes and athletic directors at some of the state’s most important universities on Tuesday welcomed the governor’s signing of a bill to allow varsity athletes to be paid for the use of their names on Tuesday. and their image as innovative and focused on equity.
University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman called Governor JB Pritzker’s signing of Senate Bill 2338 “the most dramatic and significant change to the college model since ‘adoption of sports scholarships’.
The bill received broad bipartisan support in the Illinois General Assembly, and Pritzker signed it at the State Farm Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, accompanied by lawmakers, including former university athletes. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside and Rep. Kambium Buckner, D-Chicago.
“We are very proud to be able to host this very important and special day, not only in the history of varsity athletics here in our state, but in the history of varsity athletics in all states,” said Whitman. . “And this is one of those days that allows us to begin to usher in the new era of varsity athletics.”
Athletic directors from Northwestern University and DePaul University were also in attendance at the press conference on Tuesday.
The new law, which comes into effect on July 1, allows Illinois college athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image or likeness, such as signing autographs in local businesses or in advertisements. It would also allow athletes to hire an agent, but would not consider them to be employees of the schools they attend and would not allow them to be paid for their athletic performance.
Buckner, who played football at the University of Illinois, said the new law “isn’t just a victory for the star quarterback or star point guard.”
“It gives the tennis player the opportunity to be paid for teaching lessons in her hometown during the summer vacation,” he said. “It creates a device for the female softball player to lend her image to the local pizzeria for fair market value. “
U of I basketball player Eva Rubin said college athletes spend hours on schoolwork and athletic careers, but there are other partnerships the new law can help facilitate. She highlighted her experience as a type 1 diabetic and the public awareness she was involved in for this cause.
“With my little platform that I was able to build for myself here at the University of Illinois, I have had many opportunities to work with diabetes research foundations, the American Diabetes Association, just organizations and causes like that that are important to me, ”she said. “So now, with the passage of the (Name, Image and Likeness Act), I can only imagine the opportunities that I will be able to create and build for myself in a way that will help me give back. to my community. “
Vederian Lowe, a lineman for the U of I football team, said college athletes “dreamed” of the opportunity to reap financial rewards for the work they put into their sport. He called the bill a “historic change” for varsity athletics.
The new law will allow universities to prohibit a student from obtaining sponsorships based on wearing the logos of certain brands during a competition. For example, if the university has a contract with Nike, this may prevent the sponsorship of individual athletes by Adidas.
It prohibits approvals for gambling, sports betting, controlled substances, marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, electronic cigarettes, performance enhancing supplements, adult entertainment “or any other product or service. that is reasonably viewed as inconsistent with the values or mission of a post-secondary educational institution.
Universities and colleges would be prohibited from adjusting scholarship offerings for students who receive compensation for their name and image. And organizations like the NCAA, which oversees major college sports, would be prohibited from punishing athletes or schools for accepting or allowing compensation.
Illinois joins 20 other states that have passed such legislation, according to businessofcollegesports.com, although many of them have later effective dates.
Pritzker said the state bill puts him “at the forefront” of the movement to allow compensation for college athletes.
“Beginning July 1, Illinois college student athletes, regardless of sport and division, can take control of their destiny when it comes to their own name, image and voice,” he said. -he declares. “With this law, Illinois is at the forefront of easing the pressure of talented kids who are torn between graduation or money on the big leagues.”
In a narrow ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled 9-0 last week that the NCAA cannot restrict educational benefits to student athletes, such as laptops and paid internships. The decision did not affect the compensation of the athletes.
So far, neither the NCAA nor the US Congress have established national rules governing the remuneration of college athletes, although the Associated Press reported last week that the NCAA is working on temporary rules that may be in place. by July.
“Obviously the landscape of varsity athletics is changing, and I think what we’ve proven here through this coalition is that we’ll always be willing and ready to be creative and have a one step ahead to lead the charge, ”Buckner said. “We don’t know what everything will look like in the months and years to come, but I think what that means is that we are ready and ready to be at the forefront and ahead. keep.”
Capitol News Illinois is a non-profit, non-partisan news service covering state government and distributed to over 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.