JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - College athletes can receive scholarships. Beyond that, the NCAA rules don’t allow any other kind of player payment. They’re looking at changing that rule. But states like Mississippi are jumping in on the issue.
Agents, endorsements, cashing in on use of name, image or likeness... it’s a scenario you’re likely familiar with tied to professional sports. But there’s a movement to give college athletes that same opportunity.
“Florida has already passed the bill,” said Rep. C. Scott Bounds (R-Philadelphia). “I think it goes into effect this July. Most of the schools in the southeastern conference, to my knowledge, and states are trying to pass it this year.”
“I think it’s a time that is come and I think it’s a fair thing to do,” explained Rep. Robert Johnson (D-Natchez).
Owner of Espy Performance and former student athlete Mike Espy says it was never a topic at top of mind while he was playing but he made this note.
“When you’re a college athlete, you don’t have time to go make money or do anything like that,” explained Espy. “While all at the same time, the schools are getting millions and millions and millions of dollars because of what these athletes bring to the table and fans wanting to go see this player or that player.”
Espy does, however, think endorsement deals could be a slippery slope.
“If you don’t regulate it, if it’s not flat-based across-the-board, if there are perks or if there are some different stipulations to where if you can do this then you get more… I think that’s when it becomes an issue. It needs to just be flat out,” added Espy. “The language needs to be clear.”
Mississippi lawmakers say they would prefer federal legislation for this issue but don’t think they can afford to wait on it.
“They will pass them in other states and then we have that recruiting disadvantage both academically and athletically,” said Bounds.