WATCH: Pritzker signs legislation allowing student-athletes to be compensated

State News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WMBD) — Gov. JB Pritzker spoke at noon Tuesday and signed legislation that will allow Illinois student-athletes to be compensated.

The signing took place at the State Farm Center, located on the University of Illinois campus.

In January the legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support — and starting July 1, student-athletes will be able to profit from their name, image and likeness.

There has been similar movement across the country to make sure student athletes are allowed to benefit financially from their talents.

“I am so proud of the work that went into passing this legislation to ensure student-athletes receive the recognition and compensation they deserve,” said Speaker Chris Welch (D-Westchester). “As a former college athlete myself, I understand firsthand how this will benefit our student-athletes, who often balance a full schedule of schoolwork with their sport, as well as their families. We’ve watched universities and coaches profit off of the talents of these young adults, and it is time we allow them to earn their fair share, too.”

Even the NCAA has expressed support for such a move, but there are still some rules. They can’t endorse brands that could cause embarrassment, scandal or ridicule to their college or university. They can’t be the face or the name of certain products like vapes or alcohol.

Supporters of the bill said it wasn’t fair to students to see everybody else making money, when they are the ones bringing fans to the stands to spend money.

“This legislation establishes Illinois as a thought-leader in the evolving landscape of collegiate athletics by ushering in one of the most transformative changes to college sports we have seen in generations,” said UIUC Athletics Director Josh Whitman. “The new NIL paradigm in our state will allow great freedoms to our student-athletes while upholding the core tenets and educational mission of our universities and our athletic programs. Our thanks to Governor Pritzker and our state’s lawmakers for their innovation, open-mindedness, and leadership in this exciting new area.”

Local reactions have included those like Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics at Bradley University, Dr. Chris Reynolds, who said it creates fairness for athletes.

“With so many states enacting legislation related to name, image, and likeness, it is important that our Bradley student-athletes are not put at a disadvantage compared to their colleagues across the country,” he said. “The well-being of our student-athletes is our top priority, and these name, image and likeness opportunities will help Bradley University student-athletes maximize their experience on campus and help them prepare for life beyond college athletics.”

ISU Director of Athletics, Kyle Brennan said they are still trying to figure out how to make it work for ISU athletes, but will assist Redbird athletes in any way they can.

“The Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation presents one of the biggest changes for student-athletes and universities in recent history. Our department is working diligently to provide information and assistance to our student-athletes, coaches and staff while making sure all monitoring and compliance issues are being handled correctly,” said Brennan.

The NCAA still prohibits student athletes from being paid to play.

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