Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs bills to OK college athlete compensation

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

By Journal Sports Staff

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation today allowing student athletes to use their own name, image, likeness and reputation for financial compensation, according to a news release from Whitmer’s office.

It was said that this marks the first time in Michigan that collegiate athletes will have the opportunity to financially benefit from the many hours they commit to their sport while attending school.

This was a bill that passed the Michigan Legislature with bipartisan support, the governor said.

“For years we have all enjoyed the incredible talent of young athletes across the state,” Whitmer said in the statement. “This legislation will change the lives of young men and women for years to come.

“As one of the first states in the nation to pass this historic legislation, I am proud to sign this bipartisan legislation today on behalf of our current and future student athletes. I am hopeful that the NCAA will set a national standard so that all players across the country are afforded the same opportunities.”

A former college and pro football player agreed.

“It’s high time that collegiate players are respected and compensated for the talents that they’ve spent their entire lives trying to perfect,” said Joique Bell, former Detroit Lions and Wayne State University player. “I’ve always supported the efforts to protect the best interests of athletes, especially those with tremendous abilities who play at all levels of the NCAA.

“Working two jobs, going to school full time, playing football and raising my son is a lot for any person, especially financially. My story is just one of many for collegiate student-athletes.

“We need to continually find ways to help student athletes get ahead and build their brands early, while also protecting the players and the integrity of the sport.”

Joining the chorus in their support of this legislation was Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit, who also played football collegiately and in the NFL.

“At its core, this legislation is to ensure student-athletes in Michigan are treated fairly and they are able to have fulfilling college experience.,” he said. “I am proud of the opportunity to work on getting this legislation across the finish line.”

House Bill 5217 prohibits post-secondary educational institutions from enforcing rules that prohibit student-athletes from profiting from promotional deals.

House Bill 5218 repeals a section of the Michigan Penal Code that prohibits athletic agents from inducing students into contracts before their eligibility for college athletics expires.

The bills allow players from any sport in all divisions to use agents to earn money from their own image, name or likeness.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.