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GOP Rep. Introduces New Bill Allowing Student-Athletes To Profit From Their Likeness

A new bill promises to allow NCAA student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness.

Last week, Rep. Mark Walker introduced a new bill that would finally enable college athletes the right to profit from their persona as an athlete. The new legislation is called the Student-Athlete Equity Act.

“This is the time and the moment to be able to push back and defend the rights of these young adults,” Walker, a former college athlete, told the Raleigh News & Observer. What the bill plans to do is redefine the terms of a qualified amateur sports organization in the tax code, and in turn would allow student-athletes to be paid for their name and likeness, according to The News & Observer. 

Currently, NCAA regulations allow players to receive scholarships but prohibit them from receiving outside payment. However, schools are able to gain money from using a student-athlete’s likeness by selling jerseys and other promotional products.

“It’s just odd that in our free market system that this is the one area where we say, ‘No. We’ll let you make money for the university, but you can’t have any access to your name or likeness,’” Walker told The News & Observer. “This is an earning opportunity for 99 percent of these student-athletes who will never have another access to do something like this.”

Additionally, Walker mentioned he met with NCAA representatives and is looking to also discuss the possibility of guidelines no longer including a blanket ban on player earnings. These new movements follow up from NCAA’s ongoing legal dispute regarding the push for athletes to receive more benefits as well as monetary compensation. According to The Hill, a federal judge has yet to issue a ruling in Alston v. NCAA, a class action lawsuit that went to trial last fall arguing that a cap on the value of athletic scholarships prevents individual colleges from competing with each other for an athlete’s services.

The NCAA has not responded to requests for comment.

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