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Bill to pay college athletes to be proposed in Nebraska Legislature

Posted at 6:50 PM, Oct 30, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Senator Ernie Chambers has been trying to pay college athletes in Nebraska for decades, even going as far wearing Husker apparel in 1983. But now, 36 years later., Senator Megan Hunt says now is the moment to pass this in Nebraska.

"I just don't think it's right that we're putting our players through so much, that we're asking them to do a lot to entertain us, to make money for the university, for the NCAA, but they don't get to benefit financially from any of that,” says Hunt.

It's time for the players to get paid. That's what Senator Hunt is going to be saying to the unicameral when the next legislative session begins in January.

This comes after the NCAA announced Tuesday that they will soon "permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model," according to their statement.

So Hunt wants to open the door legally for players to get paid when businesses use their name, image or likeness, while also remaining on scholarship.

"A scholarship is very valuable, but I just don't think that it comes close to being fair compensation for the value they bring to the universities, to the institutions, to the money that they make for the NCAA and also the great physical that athletes have in doing that performance and playing the game,” says Hunt.

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos sent 3 News Now a statement saying, "We are closely monitoring the latest information and discussions regarding the use of a student-athlete's name, image and likeness.”

“We appreciate that the NCAA has provided guiding principles and is taking steps to address this on a national basis. We will continue to engage with the Big Ten and NCAA on this important topic."

It seems like Nebraska state senators will need convincing. State Senator Robert Clements says he hasn't made a firm conclusion, but his first impression is to keep the status quo.

"I'd rather they kept their amateur status and they're getting, most of them getting a full scholarship to get an education and right now I don't support the idea,” says Clements.

Others like Senator John McCollister say they need more info, but he does acknowledge there are problems with the current system.

"Some athletes that may be trying to raise a family and it's difficult for them to do that with the arrangement they have with the athletic department,” says McCollister.

Ultimately, Hunt, who represents parts of Midtown, Benson and Dundee, thinks she can convince her more conservative colleagues.

"This is essentially a free market bill so I don't see how this is something that conservatives couldn't support, it gives athletes the ability to make money off their own hard work and it lets the market decide what they're going to make,” says Hunt.

Hunt also says the bill wouldn't cost the state or university money, as it would be up to private business to pay the athletes.