Kansas House gives first approval to bill allowing college athletes to profit from name, image or likeness

TOPEKA — Kansas House members advanced a bill Monday that would allow college athletes to profit from their name, image or likeness.

The legislation is backed by both University of Kansas and Kansas State University athletic directors, who say passing it will ensure Kansas universities won’t be at a recruiting disadvantage with institutions in states that have similar laws, such as California and Florida. The bill would allow college athletes to make money from endorsement deals and allow them to hire licensed agents and attorneys.

The House is scheduled for a final vote Thursday. If approved, the bill would go to the Senate.

Congress is considering similar bills related to college sports, including one from Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran. He introduced a bill last week that would allow athletes to earn money from endorsements, loosens restrictions around transfers and permit players to return to school after entering a professional league’s draft.

In Monday’s Statehouse debate, Rep. Susan Humphries, a Wichita Republican, said the bill aims to ensure a level playing field for Kansas universities and colleges as Congress considers legislation related to compensation for college athletes.

But Emporia State University President Allison Garrett testified to lawmakers last month that she hopes the bill doesn’t lead to inequality for women athletes.

State Rep. John Carmichael, a Wichita Democrat, said during Monday’s debate, “It stands to reason that a male basketball player at Wichita State would have more endorsement opportunities at a higher rate of pay than a female basketball player at Wichita State,” Carmichael said.

Carmichael said last month that he prefers for Kansas to wait for Congress to make rules for college athlete compensation for all states.

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