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TN lawmakers to consider legislation to allow compensation for college athletes & prohibit discrimination based on coaches’ donations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Tennessee lawmakers will consider a bill that would allow college athletes in the state to get paid for use of their...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Tennessee lawmakers will consider a bill that would allow college athletes in the state to get paid for use of their name, image, and likeness.

Germantown State Senator Brian Kelsey filed the legislation this week. It would also “prohibit public universities from discriminating against players based on donations by coaches to universities.” Memphis Rep. Antonio Parkinson is set to sponsor the legislation in the state House.

(Find more on SB1636 & HB1694.)

If passed, college athletes in the state would be able to sign contracts with companies for advertising and other uses of their likeness. The provision on discrimination based on coaches’ donations came about following the James Wiseman controversy.

“It’s time we treat college athletes like everyone else inAmerica and allow them to earn money in the free market,” said Senator Kelseyin a statement. “The NCAA and our state universities make billions of dollars offcollege athletes, and it is unfair not to allow the athletes themselves to profitfrom their own names and faces.”

The state Senate approved a resolution in May 2019 by Sen.Kelsey calling for the state’s public universities to oppose the NCAAprohibition on compensation for college athletes.

More from Kelsey’s release:

In October, the NCAA Board voted to open the door for student-athletes to financially benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness. The board asked each of the NCAA’s three divisions to create new rules no later than January 2021.

Their action followed the passage of a law in California in September which empowers college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. The law goes into effect in three years, just like the bill introduced today by Sen. Kelsey. Kelsey says his legislation is modeled after the California law, instituting the Olympic model of compensation for college athletes in Tennessee. Universities would still be prohibited from paying athletes, but private companies would not. Several other states are considering passing similar legislation that will go into effect this year.

“This is a change which is coming, so we might as well give our Tennessee coaches as many tools as we can in their efforts to recruit the best athletes to our schools,” said Sen. Kelsey.

Another provision of the bill was added after the NCAA penalized former University of Memphis basketball player James Wiseman for accepting a gift from a former U of M player who is now the head coach, Penny Hardaway, because Hardaway had donated money to the university.

Kelsey says we should encourage former players to donate to our public universities, so he added language to the legislation to ban public universities from discriminating against players based on donations to the university by a coach.

“Discouraging donations is not worth appeasing an organization that does nothing but take down banners from our rafters,” added Kelsey. “The NCAA is an archaic organization whose time has come and gone. It is up to the athletic conferences to create a new paradigm, as they did with the college football championship.”

“Peyton Manning donated $1 million to the University of Tennessee two years ago,” Sen. Kelsey said. “Does that mean that he can never become a coach and invite his players over for popcorn to watch a bowl selection show? This arcane NCAA rule discourages former players from donating to our state universities because they might want to become coaches one day. Our state universities need all the financial help they can get.”

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) will sponsor this legislation in the House.

“I want to remind everyone that state law trumps any rule that is created by the NCAA,” Rep. Parkinson said. “Unfortunately those rules created by the NCAA are harmful to the student athletes who actually generate the revenue in college sports. Lastly, if you remove the student athletes, the NCAA becomes nothing but a useless organization.”