Virginia lawmakers approve bill allowing college athletes endorsement deals, more protection

Virginia lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill requiring colleges in the state to allow student-athletes to sign endorsement deals.

The move comes after the NCAA approved a temporary policy last summer that opened the door for college athletes to sign name, image and likeness agreements, also called NIL contracts.

The legislature backed the measure Wednesday, in a 96-4 vote.

Lawmakers said they wanted to provide more protections for college players and outline the types of contracts student-athletes can sign. According to the bill, universities cannot block or penalize an athlete who signs an NIL contract.

Furthermore, a student’s scholarship from their university cannot be revoked if they agree to an endorsement deal.

“What we want to make sure is that at each level of an athlete’s career that they aren’t being locked into a bad contract,” said Del. Marcia “Cia” Price, D-Newport News.

But players bear some responsibility, too. They cannot use their university’s name or logo without permission. And they have to turn down contracts linked to businesses that sell alcohol, adult entertainment, tobacco or illegal drugs.

Last month, lawmakers in the Senate voted unanimously to uphold their version of the bill. The next step: Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s signature.

Price wrote a similar bill to the one that passed this week, potentially protecting high school athletes from predatory endorsement deals.

“Especially when there are uncertain economic times, exploitation can be really bad and we just want to protect the players, who are children,” Price said.

She said it’s time young athletes started seeing benefits from their hard work on the field and court.

“Across the state for college students, it means they own themselves,” Price said. “They get to make money off of who they are and what they’re doing, especially since they can’t get paid for the amazing work they’re doing on the teams that are making quite a bit of money.”

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