Two South Carolina legislators are planning to be next in a recent movement of lawmakers attempting to give college athletes more opportunities to earn money while in school.
State Sen. Marlon Kimpson said he and Rep. Justin Bamberg plan to introduce a bill in January that would allow college athletes to profit from selling their name, image and likeness. Kimpson said plans for the bill, which were first reported by The State, would also include a proposal to make schools put money into a trust fund for football and basketball player to collect after they graduate.
Kimpson and Bamberg have floated similar ideas in the past, but those did not generate enough interest to require a vote. Kimpson said he is hoping a recent bill in California provides enough evidence for his fellow lawmakers to see that the public attitude toward paying college athletes has changed.
"The first time around there was hostility," said Kimpson, who initially raised a similar idea in 2014. "But I think everybody recognizes that things are different. We see this is no longer amateur."
California's state senate and assembly both voted this month unanimously in favor of its Fair Pay to Play Act, a measure that would make it illegal for schools in their state to strip athletes of their scholarships or eligibility as punishment for accepting endorsement money. California Gov. Gavin Newsom will decide sometime in the next four weeks whether he will sign that bill into law, which would go into effect in 2023.
California state Sen. Nancy Skinner, who co-authored the Fair Pay to Play Act, said she hoped that her bill would be the first step in a national movement to change the way college athletes are compensated. Lawmakers in Washington state, Colorado and Maryland have explored similar changes to their state's laws in recent years. Mark Walker, a congressman from North Carolina, has proposed a federal change to the tax code that would have a similar effect on NCAA athletes nationwide.
Kimpson's first proposal several ago included a $2,500 deposit in a trust fund for student-athletes each semester. He said that money would be held in a fund until the athlete graduated with a 2.0 GPA and completed a financial literacy course. He said that money was intended to give college athletes some funds to deal with potential injuries that may crop up after their playing careers ended. He said he plans to include a similar suggestion this time around, but is not certain if the dollar amount will remain the same.
Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney, whose championship-winning team is based in South Carolina, has been among the most outspoken opponents in the coaching community to giving players access to more money. He previously said he would walk away from college coaching and do something else if players were paid as employees. Swinney recently became the highest-paid college coach in the country with a 10-year deal that pays average annual salary of $9.2 million.
"He calls it entitlement," Kimpson said of Swinney. "But frankly, he's entitled to be in that position because of the players' labor."
The South Carolina legislature reconvenes in January. The NCAA has assembled a working group to assess its name, image and likeness policies on a national level. That group is expected to share its findings at some point in October.