By Gregg E. Clifton, of Jackson Lewis
As colleges and universities and student-athletes await the long-anticipated decision from U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken in Alston v. NCAA regarding whether scholarship limits imposed by the NCAA violate anti-trust laws, a bill introduced in the State of Washington could provide student-athletes in the state with the opportunity to be paid by sponsors or companies seeking their endorsement while they are playing for a university or college in the state.
Washington State Representative Drew Stokesbary of Auburn, Washington has introduced House Bill 1084. The bill provides that every student enrolled at an institution of higher education within the State of Washington should have “an equal right” to earn compensation for services provided; to be paid for the use of his or her name, image and likeness, and to hire agents to represent the student’s interests.
The language contained in Representative Stokesbary’s proposed legislation continues that:
“…students should not be compelled to choose between forfeiting these rights and participating in intercollegiate competitions.”
The bill would not authorize a state institution of higher education to make direct financial payments to student-athletes. However, it would allow a current student-athlete to receive financial payment for his appearance and the use of his name, image or likeness on behalf of a commercial enterprise or for the student-athlete’s endorsement of a specific company, such as a clothing or shoe manufacturer. The only proposed restriction is that the compensation received by the student-athlete must be in a manner consistent with the fair market value for their services, similar to how professional athletes are currently compensated.
Current NCAA bylaws prevent college student-athletes from receiving payments for such endorsements or hiring agents to negotiate those potential endorsement agreements. The proposed legislation would make it a violation of Washington’s state consumer protection laws to enforce any such NCAA rules against college athletes in Washington or to prohibit or suspend any athletic team from competing in an intercollegiate competition or otherwise penalizing a university because a student-athlete has received financial remuneration for their services.