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Mich. bills would let college athletes earn money

LANSING (AP) — Michigan is the latest state to consider letting college athletes be paid following the introduction of bipartisan legislation Wednesday that would allow them to cash in on the use of their name, image and likeness.

The bills, which are modeled after a new California law but would take effect sooner, also would no longer make it a crime for agents to enter into contracts with student athletes. They were proposed a week after the NCAA, pressured by individual states that started acting on their own, took a major step toward allowing athletes to make money off their fame.

“This is an issue of fairness,” said Rep. Brandt Iden, a Republican from Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township and a former tennis player at Division III Kalamazoo College. “It’s a free-market issue. If a student athlete has the talent and ability to make a little money from a sponsorship or an advertising contract, they should have the opportunity to do so.”

Another bill sponsor, Democratic Rep. Joe Tate of Detroit, played football at Michigan State University and in the NFL. He said players are the driving force behind billions in revenue for the NCAA, universities and colleges.

“We want to ensure that we’re empowering them, giving them an opportunity through their name, image and likeness to see if they can be compensated,” Tate said. “We want to ensure in Michigan that we’re staying in front of this.”

The legislation, which will be referred to a committee for consideration, would take effect next July if it is enacted. California’s law will become effective in 2023.

Iden said one reason to push for a Michigan law is because the NCAA is not moving quickly enough. Its board of governors voted last week to reverse a prohibition on making money and set a January 2021 deadline to have rules and regulations finalized across three divisions covering more than 1,100 schools and 460,000 athletes.

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