Bill would allow Wisconsin college athletes to be paid

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin lawmakers are preparing a bill that would allow college athletes to hire agents and profit from their names starting in 2023.

The bill is similar to California’s Fair Pay to Play Act signed into law last month. The Wisconsin proposal would make it illegal for state universities to revoke an athlete’s scholarship or eligibility for taking money through endorsements, autograph signings or social media advertising.

The bill also would ban the NCAA from penalizing schools for allowing student athletes to be compensated for use of their name, image or likeness.

Republican Rep. Dave Murphy of Greenville, who chairs the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee, is spearheading the bill, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Murphy wrote a letter Tuesday to UW Athletics Director Barry Alvarez, saying Wisconsin “cannot afford to sit this discussion out.” Alvarez has spoken out against changing student athlete compensation rules.

“Wisconsin needs to stand up and be a leader on the right way to move forward on this issue,” Murphy wrote.

Lawmakers in at least a dozen other states have introduced legislation similar to California’s or pre-filed versions for the 2020 legislative session. The NCAA has fought for years against allowing college athletes to profit.

But the NCAA took a major step Tuesday toward allowing college athletes to cash in on their fame, voting to permit them to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.”

The NCAA Board of Governors directed each of the NCAA’s three divisions to create the necessary new rules immediately and have them in place no later than January 2021.

Wisconsin state Rep. Katrina Shankland, a Democrat from Stevens Point, will likely sign on as a co-author of the bill, an aide from her office said.

“Wisconsin’s motto is ‘Forward,’ not ‘Wait and See,’” Shankland said in an interview Wednesday. “We don’t want to wait and see what the NCAA says. We want students to understand we support them and have a conversation about what fairness, equity and opportunity looks like not only in Wisconsin, but across the country.”

UW-Madison officials declined Wednesday to comment on the proposed bill because it has not been introduced.