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Lawmakers considering bill allowing compensation for college athletes

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    SALEM, Oregon (KPTV) — Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney is once again taking a shot at a bill that would allow college athletes to personally profit from the multimillion sports industry that is built around team programs and star athletes.

The hot-button issue has been controversial for years, but more recently, a handful of states have passed laws that overturn university and college rules banning athletes from receiving payments and gifts.

Courtney introduced the bill last year but it failed to go anywhere as Republican legislators walked out of the chambers in protest of a cap-and-trade bill.

“This is a fundamental fairness issue,” Sen. Courtney said Thursday in a passionate speech before the Senate Committee on Rules.

Senate Bill 5 would pave way for Oregon athletes to receive compensation and royalty fees for deals that use their name, image or likeness to promote items like products and gear.

Lawmakers also heard testimony from supporters of the bill, including Oregon State University football player Jaydon Grant.

“These profits are generated from the labor of student athletes,” Grant said.

“Not only is this an economic rights issue, but a racial injustice issue as well because the sports that the NCAA profits the most from is in large percentage African-American,” Grant added.

The bill would also allow student athletes to accept food, lodging or medical care from third parties. That’s something Sen. Courtney said could benefit athletes from various divisions or those playing less lucrative sports.

But it’s something that universities, so far, have been hesitant to endorse, citing concerns regarding Title XI funding, and how laws could vary from state to state

“A national solution that establishes a clear and uniform standard governing name, image and likeness perimeters is the best way to ensure a single standard that makes it possible to provide equal opportunity to all student athletes,” testified Rob Mullens, the athletic director for the University of Oregon.

Former Oregon Duck football star and current NFL draft hopeful Brady Breeze said he can see both sides of the issue, telling FOX 12 that student athletes should be compensated for things like jersey sales but also wondering if it could be a slippery slope.

“I’m kind of right in the middle,” Breeze said. “I think players can benefit from it to an extent, as long as it’s not affecting their career, like they’re doing commercials and that instead of playing their sport, because at the end of the day we’re here to go to school.”

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