HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut is poised to become the next state to allow college student athletes to benefit from their own names and likenesses.
The state Senate passed the bill on Tuesday night.
“This bill really addresses an issue of basic fairness: These students – who are predominantly minority students – have helped the NCAA earn billions of dollars in sports broadcast fees, but until now they could not participate in any of that profit," said Sen. Derek Slap, a Democrat who represents West Hartford. "It's time to give our student-athletes in Connecticut the opportunity to make some money off of their name and their face and their talents. A student who is talented in art or music can make money off of their name, so why not an athlete? We’re fortunate to live in a state where our female athletes also have opportunities to benefit and that’s just one more reason to celebrate its passage."
Slap is credited with leading the final passage of the bill, which in addition to allowing student athletes to be compensated for an endorsement, lets them hire a sports attorney.
He said for years he's been advocating for the right of college athletes to profit from their name or likeness by engaging in paid advertisements – something that is currently forbidden by the NCAA, even though the organization allows states to write their own rules.
Connecticut's bill now heads to Gov. Ned Lamont's desk.
CT would be the 17th state to pass a bill on name, image, and likeness, or NIL.
This means basketball stars like Page Bueckers and Ryan Bouknight can seek endorsement deals, but it also means all athletes can sell ads on their social media platforms or get paid to work at summer camps.
Lawmakers said the bill has been endorsed by the University of Connecticut and other state colleges and universities who fear that they could be at a disadvantage to recruit and retain student-athletes without such a policy.
Sixteen states have passed similar laws, including Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Dozens of other states are considering similar legislation.
Sen. Chris Murphy has been advocating for it on the federal level.
The U.S. Senate held a hearing on Wednesday on compensation for college athletes.
"We need to listen to the athletes. They are the ones who are all too frequently out numbered in this conversation," said Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Blumenthal wants a federal student athlete bill of rights that goes farther, including, "a share of revenue after scholarships and other costs are paid, new standards for health and wellness care, including for on-field brain injuries and off-the-field help for sexual assaults, better educational opportunities, and easier rules for transfers."
The NCAA plans to vote on the new NIL rules this month, in time for the fall sports season.
Slap says that if the NCAA and federal legislation fall short on healthcare, that could be something else lawmakers in Connecticut take up.