A handful of states has already moved to change their laws to allow student athletes to receive compensation based on their name, image or likeness, including Louisiana, Florida and Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Legislation that would allow Louisiana universities and their deep-pocketed supporters to pay student-athletes directly was approved Thursday in House of Representatives with a 93-4 vote. All that is left is Senate concurrence on amendments before the governor will consider an update to the state’s name, image and likeness (NIL) law
Senate Bill 250, authored by Sen. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, would allow state colleges, universities, their affiliates and boosters to compensate student-athletes directly. Previously, players had to go through a third party to be paid for their name, image or likeness, usually a business with which they could reach a sponsorship deal.
Rep. Jon Stefanski, R-Crowley, who presented the bill on the House floor, said Louisiana’s current NIL law is more restrictive than other states’. Passing the Connick bill would put Louisiana schools in line with what other states are already doing.
“If we want LSU or any other of our universities to be able to compete (in recruiting) with Texas A&M and with Alabama and see Nick Saban upset on a regular basis on the sideline, we have to be competitive,” Stefanski said.
Colleges are not allowed to entice recruits with deals where they would profit off their name, image and likeness, Stefanski said.
Opponents of the bill said inserting financial incentives into college sports will ruin the sanctity of the game for athletes and fans.
“For those of us that hate professional sports because it’s not about the love of the game, it’s about money, we just let that bleed in here,” Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, said.
Other critics are concerned NIL deals could create a pay divide among athletes in college. Football players are more likely to see higher compensation, while athletes in Olympic sports would profit less off their name, image and likeness.
Rep. Larry Frieman, R-Abita Springs, said he disliked the bill because he feels NIL compensation will increase parity in college sports. He voted in favor anyway “because I don’t feel like we have to hamper our state schools” by making compensation to college athletes more restrictive.
Connick’s bill was amended in the House Committee on Education to add an exclusion from public records law. Any document disclosing the terms and conditions of the athlete’s compensation that is shared with the university would be kept private. The Senate must sign off on that change.
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Correction: This story was updated to indicate that the state Senate still needed to concur in amendments added to the bill on the House side.
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