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Pritzker Backs Endorsements For College Athletes

Pritzker in ceremonial office
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
Gov. J.B. Pritzker calls for passage of the Student Athlete Endorsement Act. He made the announcement with attorney and former college basketball player Dustin Maguire, left, Rep. Chris Welch, Sen. Napoleon Harris, and Rep. La Shawn Ford, among others.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is supporting legislation that would let college athletes get paid for endorsements.

The legislation would let students make money off their name, image or likeness — by, say, endorsing a local car dealership or appearing in an ad for a restaurant.

Pritzker says it’s a matter of fairness.

“The names and likenesses of student athletes are being used by others to create massive profits,”he told reporters Monday. “And yet the students themselves see none of those profits.”

The legislation follows a similar measure signed into law this summer in California.

Dustin Maguire is a lawyer in Edwardsville and a former college basketball player. He previously helped players sue the NCAA and EA Sports over a video game that used their likenesses. Maguire says other kinds of college students can make money off their unique skills.

“Whether it is a band student who is on scholarship because of their musical talents — they are able to put on a concert. If an art student is able to sell paintings, that would be encouraged,” Maguire said. “But for some reason whenever you run a football or you shoot a basketball, you’re told that that scholarship that you get is all you can get.”

The NCAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but has previously called the concept “unconstitutional.”NCAA President Mark Emmert told the Indianapolis Star it’s a way of converting student athletes into employees.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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