As colleges and universities and student athletes await the long anticipated decision from U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken in Alston v. NCAA regarding whether scholarship limits imposed by the NCAA violate anti-trust laws, a bill introduced in the State of Washington could provide student athletes in the state with the opportunity to be paid by sponsors or companies seeking their endorsement while they are playing for a university or college in the state.

Washington State Representative Drew Stokesbary of Auburn, Washington has introduced House Bill 1084. The bill provides that every student enrolled at an institution of higher education within the State of Washington should have “an equal right” to earn compensation for services provided; to be paid for the use of his or her name, image and likeness, and to hire agents to represent the student’s interests.

The language contained in Representative Stokesbary’s proposed legislation continues that:

“students should not be compelled to choose between forfeiting these rights and participating in intercollegiate competitions”.

The bill would not authorize a state institution of higher education to make direct financial payments to student athletes. However, it would allow a current student athlete to receive financial payment for his appearance and the use of his name, image or likeness on behalf of a commercial enterprise or for the student athlete’s endorsement of a specific company, such as a clothing or shoe manufacturer. The only proposed restriction is that the compensation received by the student athlete must be in a manner consistent with the fair market value for their services, similar to how professional athletes are currently compensated.

Current NCAA bylaws prevent college student-athletes from receiving payments for such endorsements or hiring agents to negotiate those potential endorsement agreements. The proposed legislation would make it a violation of Washington state’s consumer protection laws to enforce any such NCAA rules against college athletes in Washington or to prohibit or suspend any athletic team from competing in an intercollegiate competition or otherwise penalizing a university because a student-athlete has received financial remuneration for their services.

Jackson Lewis’ Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group will continue to monitor the proposed legislation and provide updates on developments in this area. Please feel free to reach out to any member with questions.

 

 

 

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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.