A single Republican lawmaker in Washington State says, yes.
State Rep. Drew Stokesbary, (R-Auburn) says he has changed his own mind on this issue. Two or three years ago, he says he would have laughed at the idea.
But now, Stokesbary wants to have a serious discussion. He says universities, athletic programs, coaches, intercollegiate athletic conferences, TV networks, and everyone else make gobs of money while the athletes themselves get a nice “thank you” and a degree.
Stokesbary says that just feels wrong and there are plenty of people who agree with him.
Of course, this topic has been the subject of intense debate for a long time:
Here’s national sports radio host Colin Cowherd making the argument for paid college football players. This is from a couple of years ago when Cowherd announced he had officially changed his mind on the issue;
Here are some good points in the opposing view. This is a video from CNN Money, published March 9th, 2018.
And so, what’s very clear is the debate really has amounted to nothing so far.
The NCAA still has a large amount of authority in this realm. If a college student-athlete ever gets paid, the NCAA can still issue sanctions against the individual student-athlete, their athletic program, and/or their school.
Well now, Stokesbary has introduced House Bill 1084 in the Washington State legislature, which begins its annual legislative session on Monday.
This measure would simply write into law, protections for student-athletes who choose to use their athletic fame for financial gain.
Stokesbary explained some examples; A college athlete getting an endorsement deal, selling their name or likeness for public display in some other way, or running their own for-profit sports clinic.
The bill would not require athletes to be paid, but it would prevent them from being punished by the NCAA if they do find a way to get paid.
Of course, this particular measure would only apply to athletes and institutions in Washington State.
That could be the most contentious part of the proposal and you could bet if Washington lawmakers approve this measure — other states with big-time college athletic programs will quickly follow suit.
As a final point, Stokesbary believes this idea will help reduce the amount of financial corruption we see in college athletics. Of course, opponents would likely scoff at that assertion.
At any rate, we’ll see how far it goes!