[JURIST] A bill (S.171) [text] that has been pre-filed in the South Carolina Senate [official website] would make certain state colleges pay their student basketball and football players if the bill becomes law. The bill was proposed December 3 by Senator Marlon Kimpson [official profile], who argues that student athletes should be compensated when universities benefit financially from the use of the name, image and likeness of the students. The bill would mandate annual stipends be given to each basketball and football athlete that remains in good academic standing, regardless of any other scholarship or financial aid awarded. S.171 would require Division I level National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) [official website] institutions that make at least $50 million in annual revenue to create a student athlete trust fund, which would be supplemented by a portion of revenues from the sports, such as ticket and merchandise sales. Each year $5000 would be deposited into the fund per athlete, not to exceed a total of $25,000 for any one student, which will be given to the athlete upon graduating and completing a financial literacy course. The bill is currently in the Senate Education Committee, and the new legislative session will begin Jan. 13.
The compensation and treatment of student athletes remains an unresolved topic of debate across the country. In October the NCAA was sued [JURIST report] for violation of the minimum wage and maximum hour provisions of Fair Labor Standards Act [materials]. In August the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the NCAA cannot prohibit athletes from selling the rights to their names and likenesses. The court found that NCAA rules prohibiting students from earning a share of revenues unreasonably restrict trades and are a violation of the Sherman Anti Trust Act [definition]. In March the National Labor Relations Board ruled [decision, PDF] that football players at Northwestern University are employees under the National Labor Relations Act, which gave students the option to unionize. The court found [JURIST op-ed] that the students perform services for the benefit of the university in exchange for compensation and that the players were under control of the university. Following the ruling, NCAA President Mark Emmert stated, “the notion of using a union-employee model to address that challenges that do exist in intercollegiate athletics is something that strikes most people as a grossly inappropriate solution to the problem.” The NCAA has maintained its position.