Louisiana college athlete endorsement bill heads to Gov. Edwards

Louisiana

FILE – In this March 14, 2012, file photo, a player runs across the NCAA logo during practice in Pittsburgh before an NCAA tournament college basketball game. The Associated Press has learned that the NCAA has not tested players for performance-enhancing drugs while they’ve been at March Madness and other recent college championships. Three people familiar with testing protocols tell AP full-scale testing has not resumed since the coronavirus pandemic shut down college sports a year ago. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is poised to join more than a dozen other states allowing college athletes to earn cash from endorsements and sponsorship deals under an effort gaining steam across the country because of the NCAA’s inaction on a national policy.

The Senate voted 35-0 Tuesday for House changes to Sen. Pat Connick’s bill to let the student-athletes profit off the use of their name, image, and likeness, the final vote needed to send the measure to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk.

Edwards hasn’t taken a public position on the bill but made no attempt to stop passage.

Connick, a Marrero Republican, said at least 15 states have passed similar legislation.

“If Louisiana is left behind, we’ll be at a competitive disadvantage,” said Rep. John Stefanski, the Crowley Republican who handled the bill in the House.

The NCAA’s attempts to reform its bylaws and permit college athletes to capitalize on their names, images and likenesses have stalled. Federal legislation on the issue is pending in Congress.

Frustrated with inaction, states started passing their own laws. That effort has snowballed across the country as states worry that they need to allow their universities’ athletes to make the same profitable deals or risk those athletes being poached by other schools in recruiting.

The first name, image and likeness laws are slated to begin in July, but Louisiana’s law wouldn’t start that quickly. The bill requires each university system governing board to adopt implementation policies before the endorsement and sponsorship deals could begin.

Under Connick’s bill, compensation would be allowed only in deals struck with outside, third-party groups unaffiliated with the school. Deals could not involve tobacco, alcohol, illegal substances, banned athletic substances, or gambling. Athletes would have to disclose the contracts to their colleges, and the schools could block certain deals.

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