Lansing — Michigan lawmakers announced legislation Wednesday that would allow student-athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness, becoming one of the latest states to attempt to buck NCAA bylaws prohibiting students from profiting from the lucrative college sports industry.

The bipartisan legislation from Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo Township, and Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit, would allow student-athletes to receive compensation from a third party and allow agents to enter into contracts with student-athletes. 

The legislation, if made law, would become effective in July 2020. 

"If a college student has the talent and ability to make a little money with a sponsorship or advertising contract, they should have the opportunity to do so," said Iden, a former Kalamazoo College tennis player prevented from mentioning as much when he taught tennis on the weekends throughout college. 

Tate was an offensive lineman for Michigan State University from 1999-2003.

Opposition to student-athlete pay has centered around concerns that such compensation would undermine "the spirit of intercollegiate athletics," Tate said. But those concerns have only been to the detriment of college athletes while "other organizations, other companies" benefit.

"This is just an opportunity to level the playing field," Tate said. 

Iden acknowledged that the NCAA is working to address compensation for college athletes but added: "They're not moving quickly enough on the issue."

"We’re going to sit down with all of the stakeholders … to make sure we can build support for this," Iden said when asked about communications with Michigan universities regarding the legislation.

"This is sort of happening in an illegal way sometimes, and this brings that issue to light," he added.

In October, the NCAA Board of Governors voted to permit athletes to make income off their names, images or likenesses. All three college athletics divisions will work to establish new rules by January 2021. Details that must still be decided include the extent of regulations and the types of endorsement deals from which athletes can profit. 

California’s Fair Pay to Play Act was one of the first statewide efforts to compensate student-athletes beyond the costs of attending a university. California’s bill would allow student-athletes to financially capitalize on use of their name, images and likenesses, but would not allow schools to pay salaries to athletes.

Lawmakers in other states, including Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington, have announced similar legislation.

"We believe that we need to be competitive with other states," Iden said. "We need to be at the forefront of this.”

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