Oregon Senate passes bill allowing college athletes to profit from jersey sales, trading cards and video games

Oregon State University cornerback Jaydon Grant (3), pictured in this 2021 file photo, is among several athletes in the state with potential deals in the works to cash in on their name, image or likeness. Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would remove barriers for that to happen.

Andy Nelson/AP

A bill to further allow Oregon collegiate student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness passed halfway to become law on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1505 would allow athletes such as 6-foot-7 University of Oregon forward Sedona Prince and Oregon State University cornerback Jaydon Grant to earn royalties from the sales of jerseys, trading cards and video games that profit from it. Prince and Grant are among a number of student-athletes with name, image or likeness deals pending as lawmakers debate SB 1505.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is now heading to the House for consideration and approval.

It follows work by lawmakers last year that broke a more than 100-year tradition of amateurism preventing college athletes from making money.

Senate Speaker Peter Courtney, D-Salem, spearheaded this effort through the legislature last year and it went into effect July 1, 2021. It was the first step for Oregon in a national effort to give athletes a share of the billion-dollar college sports. industry.

But the intervention of the National College Athletics Association (NCAA) prevented Courtney from going as far as he would have liked.

“All the language that’s here was in (last year’s bill),” Courtney told the Senate on Wednesday. “Until the NCAA president finds out and requests an audience with me.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert threatened Courtney that if the Oregon Legislature passed a bill with specific language granting royalties to college athletes, the NCAA would disqualify all student-athletes in the state.

Ultimately, the royalties piece was dropped from SB 5, and lawmakers approved it by wide margins in both houses last year.

Seven months later, the NCAA is singing a different tune after name, image and likeness bills passed in 27 more states.

Now, Oregon is set to join Pennsylvania as the only states to pass bills that go even further by allowing collegiate athletes to earn royalties from jersey sales, trading cards and games. video games.

If passed, the bill could provide much-needed support to athletes who often don’t come for the money. Fans say athletes want to be able to help their parents pay the bills at home, buy gifts for the family during the holidays or just have some extra cash in their pockets.

It could also give two Division I schools – the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers – a head start in terms of recruiting top athletes looking to land somewhere where they can participate in the activities of the college athletics.

Courtney said Wednesday that these name, likeness and likeness deals don’t just benefit star athletes in “revenue-generating” sports like soccer or basketball. All athletes, from acrobatics to tumbling to golf, have the opportunity to earn money.

More than 300 UO and OSU collegiate athletes signed agreements, the majority of which were for female, non-football athletes.

A handful of OU alumni, including Nike mega-donor Phil Knight, have even started a new venture aimed at helping student-athletes with branding and marketing as they take advantage of the new system. But reports indicate the NCAA is reviewing a handful of programs, including UO, for potential violations.

During Wednesday’s Senate session, a handful of Courtney’s colleagues, including Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp of Bend, rose to speak in support of the bill.

Sen. James Manning, Jr. — a Democrat from Eugene — pointed out that allowing student-athletes to earn money has huge benefits for those who come from poverty and their families.

“They go to school on a scholarship, and they work, they bleed, and they give all they can, making billions for network television, for schools, for coaches, and yet most of them can’t even afford to eat at night,” he said. “It’s one more step to bring us closer to compensation when they have been victims for years and years.”

Manning said he aspires to take the conversation even further by looking at laws that would make student-athletes employees of the universities they compete for, a step that would give them more rights and benefits under labor law. job.

The bill is now awaiting referral to a House committee where it is expected to be reviewed in the coming days.

Lawmakers have until March 7 to wrap up the work of the 2022 legislative session.

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