A bill allowing Oklahoma college athletes to be paid for their name, image and likeness is scheduled to be heard on the House floor Tuesday, one step away from the governor's desk.
Under state law, it's already legal for college athletes to be paid for endorsements, however, it's banned by the NCAA. As the organization signals an intent to ease off the restriction, Oklahoma’s SB 48 would make the NCAA rule null and void.
“It tells the NCAA that you cannot prohibit student athletes in the state of Oklahoma from being compensated for the use of the name image and likeness,” Oklahoma based NFL agent Kelli Masters said.
The bill allows college athletes to get agents, like Masters, to represent them in endorsement deals.
“For me, it is an issue of fairness,” The bill’s author Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, said. “If you have another talent and you’re a college student, let’s say you’re a piano performer, you can perform and get paid. You can do a gig if you’re a singer. So, if your talent happens to be athletics, why shouldn’t you also be able to benefit from the talent?”
Daniels said representatives from Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma “spearheaded” getting the language added to the bill.
“I’m totally against it,” former OU and Dallas Cowboys head football coach Barry Switzer said. “What’s a scholarship worth? $100,000 - $150,000?”
Switzer said athletes are already compensated through full ride scholarships. The former coach told News 9 he fears the promise of paid endorsements will disrupt the recruiting process.
“I don’t want others outside the athletic department involved in it, the kids having agents,” Switzer said. “When you bring other people into the fray, the kid being recruited in Dallas, Texas has got a better chance than a kid in Stillwater, Oklahoma, doesn’t he, to market his likeness. That’s not fair, is it?”
According to Business of College Sports, 15 states have passed similar bills into law. Oklahoma would be the first in the Big 12. Five name, image, likeness laws are set to take effect this summer.
“We’ve been heading down this road for a while now,” Masters said. “Students have grown up in a day and age where they know what it means when you say build a personal brand, they’ve been doing that their entire careers.”
The bill cleared the Senate last week 43-3.