Missouri bill enabling college athletes to be paid for name, image, likeness is passed

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Missouri college athletes are close to getting paid for their name and image under a bill lawmakers sent to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk on Friday.

Support for the measure coalesced quickly in the final weeks of this year’s legislative session, which ends Friday. It had the backing of Missouri Tigers football coach Eliah Drinkwitz, who visited the Capitol last week.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 145 to 8 after being added to another higher education measure by state senators on Tuesday. It would allow college athletes to profit off their “name, image, likeness rights, or athletic reputation” without affecting their scholarships, which could not be counted as name, image and likeness compensation.

Under the bill, athletes could not enter into contracts that would interfere with any of their university contracts — for example, a marketing agreement requiring them to wear a Gatorade logo on the field, said Rep. Nick Schroer, an O’Fallon Republican who has pushed for the measure.

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Proponents have said it’s a matter of fairness for athletes who enter a full-time commitment for college sports.

“They would be allowed to make money off their own hard work,” Schroer said last week.

House Speaker Rob Vescovo, an Arnold Republican, voted for the measure despite voicing opposition to a version of it last week. He said he supported athletes making money, “but not while they’re using taxpayer dollars to fund their scholarship.”

Rep. Kurtis Gregory, a Marshall Republican and 2009 MU football captain, said his scholarship was funded not by tax dollars directly, but by donors.