Trenton – The legislation is known as the “New Jersey Fair Play Act” advanced from the Senate today. Bill S-971 is sponsored by Senator Joe Lagana, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, and Senate Higher Education Chair Senator Sandra Cunningham. If the legislation passes, it would allow college student-athletes to earn compensation for the commercial use of their name, image or likeness.
The Bill passed 21-11, the minimum vote to pass. Four Republicans joined 17 Democrats to pass the bill, and four Democrats and seven Republicans voted against the bill.
The New Jersey Fair Play Act
Bill sponsor Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic) had this to say about the legislation. “The restrictions currently in-place on student-athletes are essentially unfair. Too many at the NCAA earn huge sums of money off of the blood, sweat, and tears of our gifted young athletes in this State and, quite frankly, across the United States. As a former college athlete myself, I saw firsthand the sacrifices so many of my peers made, and I can’t ignore the inequality that’s created when students excel in other disciplines.”
“However, student-athletes absolutely can not accept payment. They can’t be paid by the college or any other entity as an athlete. This bill is only about endorsements.” noted Senator Lagana.
“I truly believe this is yet one more example of the growing need to expand and defend workers’ rights in every area. It’s time for New Jersey to do the right thing. Let’s become the second state in the Union to let student-athletes share in the financial benefits they create on the field, court or diamond.”
“Universities make a huge amount of money off of their athletic departments. It’s insufferable that, student-athletes receive scholarships, yet one serious injury can revoke that scholarship, leaving the student-athlete with no means to pay for the remainder of their schooling and no way to move forward,” remarked Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “By letting students accept endorsements as a means to profit off their likeness, they can better control their future, without having to rely solely on the generosity of their schools.”
“While the NCAA and the universities take in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, the student-athletes are merely given a stipend and an education,” noted Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “These are elite athletes who spend more than 40 hours a week training, practicing and performing without a guarantee of a professional career. They may not even complete their education. This is not just unfair, it’s exploitation. While the NCAA resists progress, I’m happy this bill will grant student-athletes new rights to be compensated, at least in New Jersey.”
We’ve covered the controversy before, here.
Where Student-Athletes Stand Now
Currently, the NCAA prohibits student-athletes from receiving compensation founded on the student-athletes name, image or likeness. But the NCAA is in the early stages to allow its student-athletes to profit from their names in some way.
Bill S-971 would prohibit an institution of higher education from preventing student-athletes from earning compensation from their name, image or likeness. The prohibition would also include preventing a student-athlete from obtaining professional representation, including a lawyer or an agent. Opportunities for student-athletes under this bill would also prohibit schools from affecting scholarship eligibility.
“As the NCAA comes up with a more cohesive plan, student-athletes can be compensated for their unbelievably invaluable work. I want to say, we’ll keep fighting for the improvement of the circumstances of all college athletes,” continued Senator Lagana.
However, under Bill S-971, the image or likeness of student-athletes could not be used in connection with alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, adult entertainment, gambling of any kind, firearms, pharmaceuticals, or dangerous, controlled substances.
In September 2019, California enacted similar legislation. Likewise, similar legislation is being considered in the states of New York, Florida, Minnesota, South Carolina, Pennsylvania as well as the United States Congress.