FILE - Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at an event on June 29, 2021.

(The Center Square) – College athletes in Illinois will now be able to be compensated.

At the University of Illinois on Tuesday, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation that will allow athletes to profit from endorsements, sponsorships and autographs.

“Beginning July 1, Illinois collegiate student athletes, no matter the sport and no matter the division, can take control of their destiny when it comes to their name, image, likeness and voice,” Pritzker said.

The law does not allow athletes to endorse things like gambling, tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, adult entertainment or any products or services that are “reasonably considered to be inconsistent with the values or mission of a post secondary educational institution.”

With no national standard on the books yet, states are scrambling to allow college endorsements for student athletes. A number of states have such laws set to take effect in coming years, and lawmakers in California are considering moving up the state date of their previously passed legislation.

In 2019, California became the first state to pass NIL – name, image and likeness – legislation, permitting college athletes to hire an agent and market themselves. California’s law was set to take effect in 2023, but Florida just passed a law with an earlier start date, July 1, 2021. Four other states followed suit: Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and New Mexico.

Illinois is the first state to pass a NIL law in the Midwest. University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman said it gives the state’s college sport’s programs an advantage.

“I absolutely think this is a recruiting tool for us,” Whitman said. “It puts us at the forefront of the national landscape on this landmark issue, this incredible change.”

The NCAA Division 1 Council vote Monday to support an interim policy that would allow college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness without violating NCAA rules until federal legislation or now NCAA rules are adopted.

The Division 1 Board of Directors will meet Wednesday to review and vote on the recommendation.

College sports raise billions of dollars from ticket sales, television contracts and merchandise, and advocates of NIL laws say the players are being exploited and not being given the opportunity to profit from their talents.

“This the dawn of a new day, and today we have created the change that our student athletes deserve,” said Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, the House sponsor of the bill. “This is about making sure that we have an equal playing field and that the skills are balanced.”

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.