Illinois state lawmakers were joined by some high-profile helpers to try to get a measure allowing college student-athletes to get paid endorsement deals across the finish line.

Although the NCAA has already approved allowing college student athletes to get paid sponsorships, a move that could be in place next year, some Illinois state lawmakers want to keep the pressure on by passing a bill similar to one in California. The Illinois bill would be the second of its kind in the nation.

Last year, the state of California passed a measure allowing student-athletes to get paid sponsorships. The NCAA board followed suit and unanimously approved a version of the proposal, but the NCAA’s proposal won't take effect until January 2021.

Illinois State Rep. Chris Welch’s House Bill 3904 passed the House last year. It’s cued up for possible passage in the Senate. He said it is time to make it happen, especially with the upcoming March Madness college basketball tournament.

“Colleges, universities and the NCAA are making billions off these student-athletes and student-athletes should be allowed to profit off their own name, likeness and image,” said Welch, D-Hillside.

Attorney Dustin Maguire, who played and coached college basketball, said it was the free market thing to do.

“If you’re an art student who’s receiving an art scholarship, no one would ever tell that you cannot sell a painting,” Maguire said. “But if you play a sport, you’re told that the scholarship you receive is the only thing you can receive for your God-given abilities, and that is wrong.”

State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, played football for the University of Illinois. He also was part of a lawsuit over video games using the likenesses of college athletes. He said the proposal does not require student-athletes to make money.

“But what it does do is give young men and women who compete in sports across the state the power to have agency over their own likeness and their own image,” Buckner said.

Buckner and Welch were joined by the NBA’s Shannon Brown and Sterling Brown.

Philadelphia 76ers player Sterling Brown said the measure would help educate young players.

“The educational side is going to be important because guys in the NBA currently aren’t educated on the financial and the business side of things,” Brown said. “If we can start it off early on the college level then that would be great for many reasons and many generations.”

The Senate could vote for the measure as early as next week. If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor the measure wouldn’t take effect until January 2023.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.