‘The dawn of a new day:’ New Illinois law allows student athletes to be compensated for use of name, imageon June 29, 2021 at 6:08 pm

Student athletes soon can be compensated for the use of their name or image under legislation signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday.

The Student-Athlete Endorsement Rights Act allows athletes at colleges and universities to retain agents. The law, which goes into effect Thursday, also outlines when a student athlete may be compensated.

The legislation allows student athletes to “take control of their destiny when it comes to their own name, image likeness and voice,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at the bill-signing ceremony at the State Farm Center on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“With this law, Illinois is at the forefront of taking some pressure off of talented kids who are torn between finishing their degree or cashing in on the big leagues,” Pritzker said. “But to be clear, the benefits of this law don’t stop with kids bound for the NFL, or the NBA.

“Any student athlete can partner with businesses in their college towns, as well as brands big and small, to see a financial benefit from the hours they pour into their craft … This isn’t just a win for student athletes, it’s a win for the future of our entire state.”

Pritzker was joined by state legislators and the athletic directors from U of I, as well as Northwestern University and DePaul University.

State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, said the bill is about “autonomy” and fairness.

A former defensive lineman on the football team at Illinois, Buckner sponsored the legislation in the House and said the “long overdue” law modernizes the college athletics landscape.

“This is not just a win for the star quarterback or the star point guard. This gives the women’s tennis player an opportunity to be compensated for teaching lessons back in her hometown during summer breaks. This creates an apparatus for the women’s softball player to lend her image to the local pizzeria for fair market value,” Buckner said.

“This is the dawn of a new day, and today we have created the change that our student athletes deserve.”

The law also bars organizations, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association, from preventing student athletes from being paid for the use of their name or image.

It also allows higher education institutions to set “reasonable limitations” on the dates and times that a student competitor might participate in endorsement or promotional activities.

Eva Rubin, who plays on U of I’s women’s basketball team, said as a student athlete she and others spend many hours in class and on the sport “that you get to watch us play on television.”

The new law will likely allow her to do more for her community.

“I’m actually a Type 1 diabetic and, with my small platform that I’ve been able to kind of build for myself here at the University of Illinois, I’ve had many opportunities to work with diabetes research foundations,” Rubin said. “With the [bill] being passed, I can only imagine the opportunities that I’ll be able to create for myself and build for myself and ways that will help me give back to my community.”

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a 9-0 opinion that the NCAA can’t enforce rules limiting education-related benefits — such as computers and paid internships — that colleges offer to student athletes but didn’t make a ruling on whether students can be paid salaries.

Buckner said that decision is a sign that things are changing for college athletes.

“I think we don’t know what everything will look like in the coming months and years, but I think what this signals is that we’re poised and ready to be at the vanguard and be at the front of the charge” for making things more equitable for college athletes, the South Side Democrat said.

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