LINCOLN — Nebraska football players and other student-athletes could get paid for endorsing or promoting products under a bill given final approval on Tuesday by the State Legislature.
Legislative Bill 962, or the "Fair Pay to Play Act," was introduced by Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, and was patterned after a California law passed last fall.
On a 35-6 vote, state senators sent the bill to Gov. Pete Ricketts for his approval or veto.
At least 20 other states have introduced similar laws — and two states have passed them — to allow college athletes to get a piece of the $14 billion college athletics industry. LB 962 was introduced amid a nationwide debate over whether college athletes should be paid.
Hunt said Tuesday that college athletes are the only students who cannot now earn money through the use of their name, interest or likeness rights.
LB 962, she said, will allow them to "earn a wage for their talent and skill" like other students.
The bill, if given final approval by the governor, wouldn’t go into effect until June 2023 to give colleges and athletes time to adjust. But Hunt has said that date could be moved up if regulations change on the federal or NCAA level.
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The beat of the drum, the knocking on the NCAA door, is only going to get louder. Student-athletes want their share, any share, of the multimillion-dollar industry known as amateur sports. Student-athletes want more freedom from archaic rules. They want new rules that catch up with the times.
State Sen. Justin Wayne said he understands he may not have enough time to get the proposal passed, but said the Legislature needs to respond now to pleas to address racial injustice involving law enforcement.