Colorado to debate paying college athletes as California approves similar legislation

FORT COLLINS, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Wide receiver Olabisi Johnson #81 of the Colorado State Rams goes up for a catch in the end zone for a touchdown against the Northern Colorado Bears at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Fort Collins, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

DENVER — Colorado State Senators Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and Jeff Bridges (D-Denver) confirmed to FOX31 they will introduce legislation similar to California which would allow Colorado college athletes to be paid.

Hill said he expects the legislation to be introduced in January when the General Assembly reconvenes.

“It is a top priority for us,” Hill said. “The NCAA thinks they can control their athletes and I think the athletes should be able to control their own destinies.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the legislation while appearing on Lebron James’s HBO show over the weekend.

“It is going to change college sports for the better,” Newsom said.

The California Fair Pay to Play Act allows college athletes to hire agents to get endorsement deals beginning in 2023. The legislation does not require schools to pay athletes.

Colorado athletes weighed in on the news today — including Nuggets and Broncos players.

“I don’t think they should be taken advantage of,” Jamal Murray of the Nuggets said.

“I think it is a tricky concept,” Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos said. “If you have companies that are going to use your likeness or you have Universities selling your jersey and things like that – to some extent I do believe you should be compensated for that.”

The NCAA expressed disappointment with the California Law .

The PAC 12, which UC Boulder is apart of, sent the following statement:

“The Pac-12 is disappointed in the passage of SB 206 and believes it will have very significant negative consequences for our student-athletes and broader universities in California. This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports and many unintended consequences related to this professionalism, imposes a state law that conflicts with national rules, will blur the lines for how California universities recruit student-athletes and compete nationally, and will likely reduce resources and opportunities for student-athletes in Olympic sports and have a negative disparate impact on female student-athletes.

Our universities have led important student-athlete reform over the past years, but firmly believe all reforms must treat our student-athletes as students pursuing an education, and not as professional athletes. We will work with our universities to determine next steps and ensure continuing support for our student-athletes.”

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