Lawmaker says the ability of college athletes to profit off their name should be handled by Congress

Posted at 6:02 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 19:28:21-04

CLEVELAND — An Ohio lawmaker is looking to add the state to a growing list of states in allowing its college student-athletes to profit off their name, likeness and image. State Senator Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) announced the legislation that would put Ohio in the company of those that have already passed similar legislation that could give them a competitive advantage in recruiting.

"The only thing we can do is to act swiftly to create justice and that's what we're going to do,” said Antani.

When California passed the Fair Pay to Play Act in 2019 it allowed student-athletes for the first time to make money off their name, image, or likeness, they could even hire an agent. It was a move that then opened the floodgates as states didn't want to lose athletes to schools in other states where they could make money.

"Since that day almost every state has introduced and about a third of them have passed their own versions,” said Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH). Many of them will be going into effect July 1 and Gonzalez, a former Ohio State football player, said there's a problem with this approach.

"What we have is a situation where every state is going to have a different law or set of laws governing college sports, I think that's chaos."

That's why he's reintroduced in Congress the Student-Athlete Level Playing Field Act, a federal law that will supersede the individual state laws while extending this economic right to college athletes. Players could get paid for things like video games, autograph sessions, or TV commercials but with all states following one set of rules.

"I think this 50 state patchwork could end horribly if we don't step up,” he said.

The bill was first introduced at the end of the last Congress but failed to move before the end of the session.

“Now more members of Congress see the need to do it,” he said. “Unlike last year when we introduced it and it was a brand new issue, this Congress I do think folks understand that we need to act here to essentially keep college sports in a place where we all know and love and in essence save college sports.”

On a similar note, the NCAA's Divison I Council will meet June 22 and 23 when it's expected they will adopt a name, image and likeness proposal ahead of those July 1 state dates in an effort to have some control in this process.