While California Governor Gavin Newsom considers placing his signature on Senate Bill 206 and making his state the first state in the country to allow college student-athletes to market and profit from their name, image and likeness without affecting their student-athlete status, the legislation is already having an impact nationally. In response to the unanimous support for Senate Bill 206,

two South Carolina State Legislators intend to make South Carolina the second state to recognize the rights of student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.

South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson and Representative Justin Bamberg have announced that they intend to introduce a bill similar to California SB 206 when the South Carolina General Assembly reconvenes in January. Their proposal would allow the state’s largest schools to pay $5,000 a year in stipends to athletes in profitable sports like football and basketball. It would also allow other student-athletes who would be eligible to receive athletic scholarships benefits, but not the stipend, an opportunity to earn money from potential sponsorships and sales of their personal autograph.

In response to questions about introducing his proposed legislation, Senator Kimpson said, “The legislation passed in California is a sign of the time. The NCAA is not an amateur sports league. This is a multibillion dollar sports empire where everyone involved makes money except the players on the field who earn it.”

In an interesting twist to current law, Senator Kimpson also said his bill would compensate players for their hourly work, allow them to make money from using their likeness to sell merchandise, and establish a fund to assist players who suffer from sports-related injuries later in life.

Despite California’s success is achieving unanimous support from its Legislature for its bill, it is thought that South Carolina Legislators will voice strong opposition to Kimpson and Bamberg’s bill. Prior efforts put forth by South Carolina legislators, including legislation introduced by Senator Kimpson in 2015, to allow student-athletes to receive compensation beyond their athletic scholarships have failed to gain support.

University of South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner has already expressed opposition stating that any such proposal “gives him angst.’ In addition, Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney, who recently signed a multi-year contract extension making him the highest paid college football in the nation, has already publicly stated that if college players are paid, “I’ll go do something else because there’s enough entitlement in this world as it is.”

Despite anticipated opposition, South Carolina Senate Education Committee Chairman Greg Hembree, the head of the committee that will initially consider the bill when it is introduced, said he is open to the idea, comparing the NCAA student-athlete to Olympic participants and their rights to benefit from their name, image and likeness.

Representative Bamberg expressed his feelings as to why he believes the bill is an important measure for South Carolina to consider. “Our job is to take care of our citizens, our schools, our players. If another state wants to continue the proverbial football farm, that’s their problem.” He added,

That extra money — even just a few thousand dollars a semester — could go a long way for underprivileged athletes and their families.

Jackson Lewis’ Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group will continue to monitor this proposed legislation and any additional state proposals that are presented in response to Senate Bill 206. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group with questions about this bill or any other proposed state initiatives.

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Photo of Gregg E. Clifton Gregg E. Clifton

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in…

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. Mr. Clifton has also worked extensively in the area of agent regulation and enforcement in professional and college sports and regularly provides counsel on issues relating to NCAA and NAIA amateurism issues and athlete eligibility questions. He has also served as an expert witness in matters involving sports agents’ work and responsibilities, as well as athlete compensation issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Team Sports for Gaylord Sports Management. He also served as President of the Athlete and Entertainment Division for famed sports attorney Bob Woolf’s firm, Woolf Associates, in Boston.

Mr. Clifton began his career as an Associate at Jackson Lewis where he focused his practice on traditional labor law. He continues to counsel clients in the areas of collective bargaining negotiations, representation cases, arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board matters.

Mr. Clifton frequently serves as an expert speaker to law schools, including Harvard University, Boston College, Hofstra University and Arizona State University, and bar associations regarding sports law issues, including agent regulation and salary arbitration. He is also often cited as an expert source in national news media for his commentary and opinion on legal issues in sports.