Nebraska lawmakers OK endorsement deals for college athletes
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — College athletes in Nebraska may soon be able to sign endorsement deals with sneaker companies, car dealerships and other sponsors under a bill approved by lawmakers on Tuesday.
Lawmakers gave the measure final approval with a 37-6 vote. It now heads to Gov. Pete Ricketts.
The measure would apply to student-athletes at the University of Nebraska and its smaller state colleges.
It would cover athletes in all sports, although Nebraska’s football, basketball and volleyball players are likely to have the most money-making opportunities. Student athletes wouldn’t get salaries but couldn’t be punished for signing with an outside sponsor.
Sen. Megan Hunt, of Omaha, has said she introduced the bill to give student athletes a way to support themselves. She has argued that the athletes are essentially giving free labor to NCAA programs that generate millions of dollars a year, potentially at risk to their own health.
California last year became the first state to let college athletes use their status to make money, following criticism that universities and athletic sponsors are getting rich off the backs of athletes and not sharing the wealth. Other states are considering similar measures, even though the NCAA has taken steps to address it on a national level.