Colorado considers bill to pay college student athletes

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TUCSON, AZ – NOVEMBER 02: Quarterback Steven Montez #12 of the Colorado Buffaloes throws a pass during the first half of the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on November 2, 2018 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

DENVER— Following California’s lead, Colorado is considering a bill allowing college student athletes to profit from their names and images — while giving the NCAA or Congress time to issue guidance beforehand.

The Senate Education Committee was set to hear testimony Thursday on the bipartisan bill, whose chief sponsors are Democratic Sens. Rhonda Fields and Jeff Bridges.

The bill would allow college athletes to be compensated without surrendering scholarships and to hire attorneys or others to negotiate with outside parties on their behalf.

Any commercial or endorsement contracts must not conflict with deals already reached by students’ university or college teams. The bill also reiterates that schools cannot pay any recruiting prospects.

If passed, Colorado’s act would become law in August 2021. That presumably would allow an embattled NCAA and other collegiate sports groups to develop national standards on student athlete compensation.

California passed the nation’s first law in September giving college athletes the right to profit from endorsements, business promotions or products on their social media accounts. That law goes into effect in 2023.

More than 20 states are considering similar legislation.

California’s law prompted the NCAA Board of Governors to support athlete compensation “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.” It set a January 2021 deadline for its three divisions to develop policy.

Last month, NCAA president Mark Emmert acknowledged the pressure the association is facing amid criticism that U.S. college sports, which generate billions of dollars a year, are unfair to athletes.

The NCAA and a working group led by Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut want to ensure student athletes in all states have the same opportunities.

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