TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Should college athletes in Kansas be paid? That was the topic of discussion on Wednesday at the Kansas Statehouse.
Last year, California passed a bill that would allow college athletes to be paid for use of their name, image, likeness or athletic reputation. Now, Kansas is among a handful of states considering similar legislation.
The Kansas bill would allow athletes to be compensated, for example, if an athlete is offered a brand deal with a company, then they would be able to be paid. However, if the bill passes through the full Kansas legislature, it will only go into effect if 15 other states enact similar legislation.
“We need to have a Kansas solution as to how we are going to deal with being competition and making sure that we’re on that playing field,” explained Senator Julia Lynn, (R) Olathe.
Representatives from Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, and Emporia State University spoke in favor of the bill at the hearing on Wednesday morning. They say this would likely only effect a small percentage of their student athletes. However, they want to be prepared, if necessary, to compete with schools in other states that may allow players to be paid.
“Recruiting is one of our biggest challenges,” said Gene Taylor, Director of Athletics at Kansas State University. “We’re not the NBA, Major League Baseball, or the NFL where you get drafted, you choose where you go and you want that choice to be as equal and fair as possible.”
Similar legislation is also being considered on the Federal level. Many supporters of the bill say a national law would be the ideal situation in this case.
“Without national-level rule making, it will be incredibly difficult to assure that there is a level playing field among student athletes at different universities throughout the United States,” explained Allison Garrett, President of Emporia State University.
If passed, the bill would have no financial effect on Kansas taxpayers.
The bill is still being considered by the Senate Commerce Committee. If passed out of committee, it will move on to the full Senate for a vote.