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NBA Players Among Those Pushing For Illinois To Approve Student Athlete Sponsorships

Feb 18, 2020
Originally published on February 17, 2020 8:48 am

Two professional basketball players said it's only fair to allow college athletes to seek sponsorships and other lucrative deals if colleges and universities are profiting at the same time.

Brothers Shannon and Sterling Brown — both originally from the Chicago suburb of Maywood — joined Illinois lawmakers Friday to advocate for a proposal to allow student endorsements. If approved, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and schools themselves would have to allow Illinois student athletes to be able to profit from the use of their name and image in advertising or merchandise.

The NCAA has long prohibited that. Any attempt to do so currently disqualifies players from college athletics, which means they can also lose any sports-related scholarships.

Sterling Brown, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, says his time as a college athlete at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas was hard work. Yet he wasn’t paid for any of it, even though the university was making money from his games and merchandise.

“Late nights in the gyms, long summers [when] you only get to go home [for] maybe two weeks, [is] huge," he told a group gathered in Chicago. "It’s important for the guys to get rewarded and recognized.”

Former NBA Shannon Brown played basketball at Michigan State University before playing for teams like the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. He argued student athletes should be rewarded for their abilities.

“You want to see them and their families thrive on the work that they put in," he said. "I feel like enough hard work is put in where these kids should definitely benefit from it in a way that’s positive.”

Though the rulemaking organization has long opposed compensating college players, the NCAA said last fall it would consider allowing the practice within an overall “collegiate model." Sponsoring state Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D, Hillside) said that response “lacked substance.”

Edwardsville attorney Dustin Maguire is among those championing the Illinois measure. Maguire is a former college basketball player and helped college athletes sue over a video game that used their images.

"If you're an art student who's receiving an art scholarship, no one could ever tell you that you could not sell a painting," Maguire argued. "But if you play a sport, you're told a scholarship is the only value you can receive for your God-given abilities and that is wrong."

Illinois’ student endorsement measure was approved by the House last fall and is now before state senators.

California, meanwhile, passed a law that will allow student sponsorship deals beginning in 2023.

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