Iowa College Sports Compensation Bill Clears First Hurdle in House

Politics

DES MOINES, Iowa — A House subcommittee advanced legislation that would prohibit the NCAA from penalizing Iowa college athletes from benefitting financially in their own name, image and likeness.

It has been an unshakeable philosophy for college athletics: amateur athletics should not get paid. Anyone can market their name, image and likeness, so some lawmakers are asking, why not let students athletes monetize on that?

Opponents argue many collegiate athletes get up to full-ride scholarships and other campus perks. But proponents say those students should get a cut from the industry that their work benefits, with intensive physical and schedule demands.

Iowa is not the only state looking to help student athletes benefit from the billion-dollar industry; many states are following the path forward set by California, which passed similar legislation in 2019.

Rep. Ras  Smith, D-Waterloo, supports this bill as a former collegiate athlete.
“While people may make money off of you in your jersey on that field that Saturday, but you can’t afford shoes for you or your siblings or groceries for yourself, it’s an issue we have,” he said.
Rep. Joe Mitchell, R-Wayland said this legislation will help student athletes who struggle to make ends meet, despite their athletic success at the collegiate level.
“Historically we’ve had numerous students, primarily of African American descent, who come to school and make millions of dollars for the school and their parents can’t even come to the games to watch them,” he said. “I think that’s wrong.”
School leaders at the hearing said they are undecided on the legislation, primarily due to concerns that passing state legislation will not address the problem nationally and create competitive disadvantages.

“The way to go would be national standard that applies to everybody. We hope it’ll happen,” said Frank Chiodo of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

However, the group expressed lack of confidence in U.S. Congress’ ability to do so.

“Congress is also working on it and I realize not everyone has the greatest faith in Congress or the NCAA but that’s where the solutions are gonna have to come from,” Keith Saunders of the Board of Regents said.

However, Mitchell said he hopes passing state legislation on this would incentivize Congress to act quickly.

The earliest this law would go into effect is 2023. The next step for the bill is to be heard in its full committee. In order to survive, it must be pass in committee by Friday to meet deadlines set by legislative rules. Similar legislation is making its way through the Senate as well.

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