Central Illinois NCAA student-athletes will soon get paid for their name, likeness

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NORMAL, Ill. — The Illinois House voted Wednesday to allow college athletes to be paid for endorsements and merchandise sales.

The plan, similar to one enacted by California, would take effect in 2023.

On Lebron James’ “The Shop”, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the ‘Fair Pay to Play’ act.

The plan earned praise from head football coach at the University of Illinois, Lovie Smith. Analysts say the California decision prompted other states to consider their own rules.

The Illinois plan is now in the Senate. This Springfield move comes one day after the NCAA announced it will take a look at its long-standing policy banning payment for student-athletes.

Illinois State University Athletic Director Larry Lyons says while this is very early on in the process, he hopes the NCAA comes up with a proposal that is good for the nearly 350 division one teams across the country.

Logistically, all the ins and outs haven’t been decided on, but Lyons believes as time goes on and more information is provided to schools, a reasonable decision will be made.

“They have to look at how that affects all of those institutions, not just one, two or ten,” Lyons said.

While the NCAA is not positive how this exactly will look, Lyons says it’s best for all institutions to keep a close eye on how things proceed and make sure it’s beneficial for both players and their universities.

“I think once they come back with their suggestions and the direction they’re gonna go, the working group in the NCAA, then we, as a membership, will get to react to that and see how that impacts all of us,” Lyons said.

NCAA President Mark Emmert says athletes should have some stake in the claim when it comes to the money their game makes.

“They want the schools to go out and promulgate students to be able to take advantage of their name, image, and likeness. But do that in a way that’s consistent with the collegiate model of sports,” Emmert said.

Lyons says now it’s just a waiting game to see what the NCAA comes up with.

“I can’t say any of us know all of the ins and outs of this. There’s no question there’s going to need to be some information that needs to be shared on how it will work. I think we’ll educate ourselves the best we can, and then see how it fits in each individual circumstance,” Lyons said.

Many professional athletes have been pushing for this for years.

Lebron James has been very vocal in support of college athletes getting paid.

WMBD’s Matt Sheehan reached out to Bradley University who declined to comment until more information comes out.

In a Monday press conference, Gov. JB Pritzker voiced his support of student-athletes getting paid and believes it will be great for those who play college sports in Illinois.

“It’s clear that student-athletes deserve to have rights in a billion-dollar industry they helped build. After advocating for our legislation in Illinois, the NCAA took a welcome – though overdue – step forward to allow students to be compensated for their names and likenesses. We remain committed to being the voice of student-athletes in Illinois and will monitor this decision to ensure it is fully implemented. Today is a victory for student-athletes around the country who are fighting for fairness and equity, and we will continue to fight alongside you,” Gov. Pritzker said.

He joins State Rep. Emmanual “Chris” Welch (D-7th District) in supporting this bill.

“I do think we need to continue forward with our bill because advocacy clearly matters.  Advocacy matters. They are hearing what’s going on all across this country,” Welch said.

State Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) showed some concern with how this process will go, and what it will mean for student-athletes.

“I’d like to see the process slowed down so more stakeholders can be involved.  Number two, I question what are we opening here in Pandora’s box?  Number three, are we taking a step that’s really going to start putting athletics before academics in our universities?” Rep. Brady said.

House Representative Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights) called the NCAA “cowards” for caving to a “little bit of pressure” during debate on the House floor.

Rep. Jeff Keicher (R-DeKalb), who represents Northern Illinois University, expressed concerns that the bill could open a door for undue influence from gambling interests over college sports, or that it could further tilt the scales of parity between major schools and conferences and smaller universities. However, Keicher supported the bill despite his reservations.

Rep. Welch and other House Democrats said their plan should still move forward to sustain pressure on the NCAA, even as it has agreed to take steps to remove the ban on college athletes being paid.

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