Illinois state representative introduces bill that could compensate athletes

Andrew Golden, Sports Editor

On Monday, State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Westchester) introduced a bill that would potentially give Illinois college athletes the opportunity to make money off of their likeness.

This bill was introduced the same day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a similar law that will take effect in California in 2023.

While Pat Fitzgerald said he didn’t know the specifics of the bill, the former Northwestern linebacker said in his Monday press conference, he is in favor of whatever best supports the interests of all student-athletes, not just football and basketball players.

“I just really really hope it’s not just for football and basketball,” Fitzgerald said in his press conference on Monday. “That, I do know. Because I think that would really change what college sports is all about.”

Welch’s bill, if passed, would allow athletes to earn compensation for the usage of their name, image or likeness while also prohibiting the NCAA from barring Illinois schools from participating in games.

At Big Ten men’s basketball media day on Wednesday, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany — who is retiring at the end of the season — said he opposed the bill, noting that college athletics will be changed when players begin to get paid.

“The student who plays athletics in the Big Ten is in school to receive an education first,” Delany said. “There’s an amazing opportunity to get a world-class education here and it’s an amazing opportunity to compete in a great conference with great recognition.”

Along with Illinois and California, several other states including Colorado, Florida and Minnesota are in the process of working on similar college likeness bills.

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