Edwards Agrees to New Rules for College Athlete Compensation

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BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday signed legislation creating the framework for Louisiana college athletes to earn money from endorsements and sponsorship agreements, as players on some campuses already have started inking such deals.

The governor’s announcement came a day after the NCAA Board of Directors agreed to a temporary national policy allowing the compensation, pressured as more and more states authorized student athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. Many of those laws — including in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas — took effect Thursday.

Louisiana’s bill by Sen. Pat Connick, a Marrero Republican, setting the state’s rules was enacted as soon as the Democratic governor signed his name to the measure. Edwards called it “a critical and historic moment for athletes in Louisiana.”

“It is only fitting that college athletes be able to benefit financially from their hard work and to have more control over their personal likenesses, which many organizations and entities have already done for years. It’s beyond time for this law, and I am excited for the opportunities it will open for Louisiana’s talented athletes,” the governor said in a statement.

Each university system governing board must adopt implementation policies before college players can start signing contracts. Both the Louisiana State University and University of Louisiana System management boards enacted such policies in anticipation of the bill signing, and some of their athletes already have been seeking out such endorsements and began announcing them Thursday.

Connick’s bill — passed in the regular session that ended in June — was spurred by NCAA inaction, which only ended this week. Lawmakers said they wanted to keep Louisiana competitive, allowing players to make the same profitable deals or risk those athletes being poached by other schools in recruiting. Connick said athletes were being treated unfairly.

“This law will be life-changing for Louisiana’s college athletes in the best way, because it will allow them to maintain their status as amateurs, but also to earn a living for their hard work while they’re in college,” Connick said in a statement. “This is what’s right and fair for our athletes.”

The House and Senate overwhelmingly agreed to Connick’s legislation.

Under the bill, compensation is allowed only in deals struck with outside, third-party groups unaffiliated with the school, not athletic boosters. Deals cannot involve tobacco, alcohol, illegal substances, banned athletic substances or gambling.

Athletes have to disclose the contracts to their colleges, and the schools can block certain deals that conflict with existing campus sponsorship deals or campus “institutional values.” Any endorsement and sponsorship agreements for college athletes who are under 18 years old must involve the student’s parent or guardian.

As part of the legislation, Louisiana’s colleges are required to give student athletes at least a five-hour financial literacy and life skills workshop about debt practices, budgeting and time management skills at the start of their first and third academic years.


By AP reporter Melinda Deslatte

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