Pritzker backs bill to let college athletes make money from their images

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Doug Finke State Capitol Bureau @DougFinkeSJR

Monday

Oct 28, 2019 at 2:29 PM

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday threw his support behind proposed legislation that would allow college athletes to make money for use of their likenesses.

Pritzker said the bill will allow college athletes to receive “fair reimbursement when their name, their image, their likeness is used for marketing purposes.”

“The names and likenesses of student athletes are being used by others to create massive profits and yet the students themselves see none of those profits,” Pritzker said. “That’s simply not fair.”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, played college baseball. He noted that Loyola University Chicago got nationwide notoriety when it made a run for the college basketball championship in 2018. He said the university made $300 million from merchandise sales that year alone.

“The student athletes, they got nothing,” he said. “This is about equity and fairness.”

If Illinois approves the bill, it would be the second state after California to enact the provision. However, Welch said a dozen other states are considering similar bills.

Welch said Illinois should also pass the legislation to remain competitive in recruiting collegiate athletes. He said California is already touting its law and using it as a recruitment tool.

Pritzker and other lawmakers at Monday’s news conference downplayed concerns that athletes in high-profile sports like football and men’s basketball will be able to cash in and participants in other sports could be left behind. Pritzker dismissed the idea of simply paying all college athletes a salary for participating.

“Let’s start with this,” he said.

House Bill 3904 is scheduled to be heard in a House committee Tuesday. If it is approved, the law wouldn’t take effect until 2023. Pritzker said that leave time for the issue to be addressed on a national scale, which he said is preferable to a state-by-state solution.

Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr

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October 28, 2019 at 02:35PM

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