Senate holds hearing on NCAA NIL; local reaction

Sports Zone

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — It’s looking more and more likely college athletes will soon be allowed to be paid for endorsements after the NCAA signaled earlier this year it was open to athletes making money off their name, image, and likeness.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey recently told senators he worries about the NCAA going pro.

Sankey said, “We must not allow college athletics to devolve into a pay for play system.”

Beginning with California, states are now passing their own laws to give athletes an opportunity to be paid, and congress wants to make sure there’s one system in place to keep things fair.

For some local perspective, former Washington Redskin and Ole Miss wide receiver Mike Espy gives us his take.

“They’re still amateurs and there is still that rule that once you get an agent you are no longer an amateur,” Espy said. “But, at the same time if we go to the side of these college coaches, college coaches bounce around conferences and schools and make millions and millions and millions of dollars. The coaches are great but these kids are the ones that are putting the product on the field. So we’re talking about what are the people coming to see? The people are coming to see the product, and that’s what these players are.

Espy still remembers the day his jersey was being sold, something he didn’t think much of at the time back in 2005.

“When I was in college they were selling my jersey,” said Espy. “They were selling the number eleven jersey at ole miss. There’s ticket sales, the TV deals where these kids are on TV, and think about it when you go to bowl games, bowls petition to different schools and offer money to entice them to come. And these kids don’t really see any of it.”

While Millsaps Athletic Director Aaron Pelch agrees with paying athletes, he notes many important questions that still need to be answered, a few being recruiting and title nine.

“Is there a possibility that some of these smaller schools, mid majors and things like that, are going to be bankrupted because they are going to have to pay this name, image, likeness,” said Pelch. “And if so how many non-revenue sports are they going to sacrifice in order to be able to pay these revenue sports. Men’s basketball women’s basketball, that’s your most equal comparison. Both have the same amount of scholarships and everything, so how then are you going to apply that for men’s and women’s basketball. Men’s basketball a big time revenue sport, women’s basketball not so much.”

Senators have discussed the issue at least twice recently, however there is no agreement yet on when legislation might get a vote.

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