LAWRENCE, Kan. — Student athletes moved a step closer to being able to benefit from their name image and likeness in Kansas with the approval of House Bill 2246 on Tuesday.
Similar measures have already passed in California and Florida, which will go into effect July 1. With every state bordering Kansas also considering it, athletic directors at both the University of Kansas and Kansas State University worry they could soon be at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting.
“The definition of amateurism is in the process of changing in our country. We believe that when the process is complete, college sports will be forever changed,” Kansas Athletic Director Jeff Long testified before the House Judiciary Committee last month.
If passed by the full Kansas Senate, it would allow players to sign with agents and sign endorsement deals or paid autographs among other ways to make money.
“It’s been long overdue to pay the players, but this was important because this puts control back in hands of student athletes not the athletic corporations they are working for,” Rep. Brandon Woodard, D-Lenexa, said.
Scot Pollard mostly remembers his time at KU from 1993-1997 fondly. But being a star athlete, who was even represented in video games, isn’t what it could have been.
“The guys got pork chop sideburns in the EA Sports or whatever it was video games. That’s me, that’s my likeness,” he recalled.
But the NCAA has never allowed student athletes to benefit from their name, image or likeness. Pollard said he didn’t come from money and needed a Pell grant to supplement his scholarship.
”When I walked down Massachusetts Street, and I see No. 31 jersey sitting in the window there, that hurt,” Pollard said.
The move won’t have a big effect on athletes in every sport and comes too late for Pollard, but he said it’s a step in the right direction for sports where college athletics has become big business.
“When you show up and it’s a direct result of your talent and your abilities that are creating those numbers of giant profit and revenue, yeah, that needs to be passed along, and it’s not proportional to a scholarship,” Pollard said.
Long said until the NCAA or Congress adopts new uniform rules, recruiting will be like the Wild West without passage of House Bill 2264 by the Kansas Senate. It would go into effect Jan. 1.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced a name, image and likeness bill in Washington D.C. this week that could put all states on a level playing field.