Michigan governor signs college athlete compensation bills

Midwest

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state’s Electoral College at the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, U.S. December 14, 2020. Carlos Osorio/Pool via REUTERS

LANSING, Mich (AP) — For the first time in state history, college athletes in Michigan will be able to get paid for the use of their names and likeness under legislation signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The NCAA currently bars athletes from receiving compensation from the use of their name and likeness, though its leadership announced plans to lessen restrictions in January. However, supporters of the two bills that Whitmer signed Wednesday are hoping to solidify opportunities for student-athletes by instituting a state law that begins in 2023.

A handful of other states have passed similar legislation. Whitmer said that she is hopeful that the NCAA will make such changes standard for all student-athletes.

“For years we have all enjoyed the incredible talent of young athletes across the state. This legislation will change the lives of young men and women for years to come,” Whitmer said in a news release.

Bill sponsor Rep. Joe Tate, a former Michigan State University football player, told a state House panel in early 2020 that he was pushing for change because he knows being a student-athlete is a year-round, full-time job because of practices, workouts, meetings and other time commitments.

“At its core, this legislation is to ensure student-athletes in Michigan are treated fairly,” Tate said in a news release.

The bills ban schools from prohibiting student athletes from forming promotional deals and brand deals, except in the case of apparel deals that conflict with the school’s apparel deals. Educational institutions would not be permitted to interfere with athletes’ scholarships, even if they earn additional income.

Engaging a student-athlete in a sports contract before their college eligibility concludes would no longer be a crime.

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Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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