DES MOINES, Iowa — Two Iowa state senators introduced a bipartisan bill that is working to establish the framework for college athletes compensation through image and likeness.
The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Nate Boulton, a Des Moines Democrat, and Brad Zaun, an Urbandale Republican, and would allow all college athletes in Iowa to benefit from this proposal in the form of a trust fund.
“As we’ve seen more and more resources get into this system it becomes more and more absurd that the student athlete who is putting their body on the line, who is doing the performance, is being celebrated, isn’t able to partake in that system,” said Senator Zaun.
These trust funds would be a voluntary form of compliance for universities and would allow athletes to build funds during their eligibility. These funds would also not be accessible until the athletes has run out of eligibility.
“This will affect the top one percent of athletes, the best and the best and probably in the … top three sports, it won’t affect everybody. So I definitely think anything that we can do to benefit the athlete a little bit more would be beneficial,” said former Grandview University softball player Claudia Farrell.
Although Senator Zaun admits this bill will most likely benefit football and basketball players, it would open up the opportunity for all levels of college athletes to benefit from their likeness. For example, sponsorship from local businesses.
A popular argument is that college athletes receive compensation in the form of scholarships, but Senator Boulton strongly disagrees that it is proportionally enough.
“That argument that you are getting a scholarship so the compensation is in that form…that was fine when there wasn’t such a gross amount of money coming in versus the value of that scholarship. Right now the proportionality is all gone there,” said Zaun.
Also, not all sports are required to give out full scholarships, even if they are the best in their division. Something that seven-time All American hurdler Kim Carson remembers during her time and Louisiana State University.
“Even though I was a blue chip athlete and I came out number two in the country. I still didn’t have a full scholarship and what that meant was, I had to figure out a way to pay for my weekend meals. I had a family that could support me and help me…not everybody had that,” said Carson.
Carson says the trust fund approach would also help athletes transition into life after athletics and also help bridge the gap while some athletes compete unsponsored in hopes of going pro.
“You’ve put in all that time and now your athletic career is over. What helps you transition into the real world? Let’s not even think about hey I’m moving to the next level because only a small percentage does that. You have put all this time and energy from the age sometimes, six, seven, elementary school into this. So, your heart, your blood your tears, you made them a lot of money and you had a little grace or transition to move on to something else,” said Carson.
Senators Boulton and Zaun say oversight would be included for these trust funds, making sure athletes could not be taken advantage of, and that their compensation would be ready for them when they leave.
“I think that would be an incentive for kids to stay at the same school for four years and to go for whatever the biggest deal is that they can get,” said Farrell.
Zaun admits this bill will be difficult to pass in the senate, but is hopeful that this will start the conversation for better conditions for collegiate athletes.
“I’m very hopeful for this next generation of athletes… that people are even talking about it. That at the level that legislators are thinking about coming up with policies to support them, that lets me know that there is value in what they do,” said Carson.