College athletes in Louisiana may soon be able to earn money off their name and likeness and maintain their amateur status as a student-athlete.
Sen. Patrick Connick’s (R-Marrero) SB 60, which would allow college athletes to receive “compensation for the use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness,” advanced without objection from the Senate Education Committee Thursday.
Connick said to the committee that “a handful of other states have already passed this legislation,” including California, South Carolina and Florida.
“It’s a win-win for the student and (the university),” Connick said to the committee. “The student can rightfully earn an income of their image and their name, but it’s got to be under the guide and the rules of the institution.”
The bill would prohibit college athletes from making money off endorsements of tobacco, alcohol, illegal substances or activities, banned athletic substances or any form of sports betting. Colleges and universities can also keep one of their athletes from making money if they’re advertising something that conflicts with the school’s “existing institutional sponsorship agreements or contracts” or “institutional values.”
When some committee members asked if this bill would cause issues with Louisiana colleges and the NCAA, Matt Jakoubek, assistant athletics director of LSU, told the committee “there will be no issues” with the NCAA “with student athletes, using their name, image and likeness… and they will still be able to participate as an ameteur athlete.”
If there were eligibility or retribution concerns between collegiate athletic leagues and Louisiana colleges and universities if this bill passed, Connick said, “then you wouldn’t have all the athletic directors around the state saying ‘let’s do this.’”
D-D Breaux, a former gymnastics coach for LSU, said LSU has multiple athletes with “very very high, high numbers of followers” on social media, including Olivia Dunne, who came to LSU with over 1 million Instagram followers, as well as large Snapchat and TikTok followings. By the current collegiate athletic rules, even if Dunne made money off of her social media platform before she came to LSU, she can’t make any as a student-athlete.
“Her dream was always to come and compete for LSU,” Breaux said to the committee. “Throughout her freshman year, she continued to post and be very careful about what she posted, and how she posted it.”
Breaux said there are some student athletes with no post-collegiate athletic opportunities, so college may be their only opportunity to profit off their image and likeness.
“The current NCAA rules are overreaching and control the use of our students’ names, images and likenesses,” she said. “To free this up — and to have our athletes be able to use their own name, image and likeness — would truly be a benefit to our student athletes.”
Breaux said this is also an opportunity for Louisiana to stay ahead of the curb, as states continue to pass similar legislation.
“We also have to keep in mind the ever popular transfer portal,” she said.
The lack of pay for college athletes has been a national debate for decades. David Berri, a sports economist at Southern Utah University, said Heisman-winning quarterback Joe Burrow was worth $3,864,611.91 to LSU, but made nothing in endorsements and ads during his time at the school because of collegiate amateur status rules.
The bill will go to Senate Finance for review, Connick said to the Illuminator.