By: Caleb J. Duncan
North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker announced that he plans to introduce the Student-Athlete Equity Act next week in an attempt to allow student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness.
Speaking to The News & Observer, Walker stated “Signing on with a university, if you’re a student-athlete, should not be (a) moratorium on your rights as an individual. This is the time and the moment to be able to push back and defend the rights of these young adults.”
The bill would alter what is defined as qualified amateur sports organization in the tax code which would remove restrictions on student-athletes being compensated for their name, image, and likeness being used while attending their school, per Brian Murphy. As of right now, the only type of ‘compensation’ a player can receive is via a scholarship.
Walker, a former college athlete, actually alluded to this bill in May when he called the NCAA out on this long-standing issue. As someone who experienced the strict NCAA rules while in college it is not surprising that Walker would be a politician to call on a change.
The North Carolina Congressman did make it clear that the NCAA would not be responsible for paying the athletes, but rather, would be forced to allow student-athletes to make money from their earning potential. “Just don’t restrict the rest of it,” Walker said.
This essentially means the big college stars (like Zion Williamson) would be the athletes who would profit, while the vast majority of student-athletes would largely remain unpaid during their time playing for their school.
Recognizing the free-market system, Walker is quoted saying:
“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. This is an earning opportunity for 99 percent of theseThe News & Observer
student athleteswho will never have another access to do something like this. It’s in that moment that your earning opportunity is prime.”
An example of this lack of compensation for student-athletes can be seen when looking at the sale of jerseys. Colleges can profit from selling jerseys of their star athletes and yet none of those proceeds ever get to the student-athlete. This bill would allow something like that to change.
Walker has discussed this bill with several professional athletes, retired athletes, analysts, coaches, and politicians showing that there is wide-spread support for a change in the current system.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw his support behind the bill on Twitter:
The NCAA did not release a comment in light of this announcement. The organization has dealt with their fair share of legal challenges as recently as
GCSN covered this issue last month in The College Problem: Compensating Student-Athletes.
Featured Photo Credit: Timothy Eberly/ Unsplash
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