PA lawmakers will introduce own version of bill proposing to pay college athletes

HARRISBURG, Pa. --- Two Allegheny County democrats want the state to pay college athletes.

State Reps. Dan Miller and Ed Gainey say they will introduce their own version of the "Fair Pay to Play Act" to the full House soon.

In a written release, the representatives said their proposal will "largely mirror" California's bill that was signed into law on Monday.

They say the law will not apply to community colleges.

The California "Fair Pay to Play Act," which is set to go into effect on January 1, 2023, allows college athletes to profit off of their names and likeness through endorsement deals.

The Pennsylvania state representatives say the "limitations placed on today’s college athletes are disproportionately harsh."

“Athletes are forced to give up their rights and economic freedom while the colleges make hundreds of millions of dollars off of their talent and likeness,” Miller said in the written release. “This bill would help to balance the scales by allowing them to sign endorsements, earn compensation, and hire agents to represent their interests in exchange for the work they do, and the benefit provided to the college.”

“Our student-athletes give their blood, sweat and tears to a sport they love, while colleges, universities and corporations reap the financial benefits of their work,” added Gainey in the release. “If a college football head coach can earn $4.8 million for coaching ‘amateur student-athletes,’ and if corporations can earn billions of dollars using the players’ names and faces, then how is it not fair for them to earn some sort of financial compensation? The chances of a professional contract and thus a payout for all of their hard work and pain are tiny, and we owe it to them to level the playing field.”

Penn State University head football coach James Franklin was asked about the possibility of paying Pennsylvania college athletes on Tuesday and said the following:

“Obviously there’s a lot going on about this right now and obviously our administration here at Penn State as well as the Big Ten Conference are following this closely. We’re going to have to continue to follow it closely and we’re going to have to learn and we’re going to have to evolve. I think everyone is very aware of it and will continue to track it and obviously come up with plans that are specific to Penn State as well as plans for the Big Ten Conference so there’s a window of time we’ve got to get it done in but there’s no doubt there’s a lot of people working on it right now,” said Franklin.

The NCAA issued a full statement to the passage of the California law, adding in part:

“As more states consider their own specific legislation related to this topic, it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field for 1,100 compass and nearly half a million student-athletes nationwide.”

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