A member of the Minnesota Legislature is working on a proposal similar to the bill signed into law in California on Monday that would let the state's college athletes hire agents and make money from endorsements.
Rep. Nolan West, a Republican from Blaine, said his goal will be to introduce it in the Minnesota House during the 2020 legislative session.
“I think there would be a lot of support,” West said. “This is a quintessential workplace issue of unpaid labor and that kind of ridiculous situation for a lot of these athletes who could get permanent brain damage and never receive a dime of compensation for hundreds and hundreds of hours of work.”
West said California Gov. Gavin Newsom opened the door for other states to have an opportunity to follow their lead, putting some “real pressure” on the NCAA to make changes to its current policies.
Under the California law, which takes effect in 2023, students at public and private universities in that state will be allowed to sign deals with sneaker companies, soft-drink makers or other advertisers and profit from their names and likenesses, just like the pros.
The NCAA, which had asked Newsom to veto the bill, responded by saying it will consider its “next steps” while also moving forward with “efforts to make adjustments to NCAA name, image and likeness rules that are both realistic in modern society and tied to higher education.”
Florida joined a list of states that are considering California-style legislation on Monday.
If the bill passes in Minnesota, West said it would at least be a year before college athletes in the state could take advantage of the law.
“We are aware of the bill that was signed in California,” Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle said in an e-mail. “We are a legacy member of the Big Ten and will work closely with Commissioner [Jim] Delany, Commissioner [Kevin] Warren and the conference on this matter moving forward.”
Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck said he didn’t know enough specifics on the California bill to comment, though he added, “I think the way college football is, change is inevitable. It’s always evolving.”
The Associated Press and staff writer Megan Ryan contributed to this report.