Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill on Thursday that would allow college athletes to receive pay when their “name, image, or likeness” is used.
The legislation, H.B. 617, states that “participation in intercollegiate athletics should not infringe upon the rights of student-athletes to have
control over” their own names and any profit that is incurred from them. The funding will be placed in an escrow account and will not be available for use until the athlete departs from college.
“It was great to be back at the University of Georgia today to sign HB 617, which allows college athletes to be fairly compensated for their contributions to our state,” Kemp wrote in a tweet shortly after signing the legislation. “Go dawgs!”
The rule change, which applies to all universities and colleges in the Peach State, including private institutions, also mandates schools conduct “a financial literacy and life skills workshop for a minimum of five hours at the beginning of the student athlete’s first and third academic years.”
The bill previously cleared the state House by a wide 43-8 margin and passed through the state Senate via an overwhelming 163-5 vote. The legislation made its way through the Georgia General Assembly before it hit Kemp’s desk.
At least 35 states have introduced bills that would allow college athletes to recoup compensation. Laws have been passed allowing the practice in California and Florida, among other areas.
In March, the Supreme Court took up a case that would decide whether or not it is constitutional to pay college athletes. Justices have spoken on the dichotomy in which school coaches are raking in millions of dollars while their players are making nothing despite both being classified as amateurs.
“To pay no salaries to the workers who are making the schools billions of dollars on the theory that consumers want the schools to pay their workers nothing,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh said at the time, adding that it seems “entirely circular and even somewhat disturbing.”
Similarly, Justice Clarence Thomas said, “It just strikes me as odd that the coaches’ salaries have ballooned, and they’re in the amateur ranks, as are the players.”
The NCAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.