Louisiana college athlete endorsement bill heads to governor

Louisiana is poised to join more than a dozen other states allowing college athletes to earn cash from endorsements and sponsorship deals under an effort gaining steam across the country because of the NCAA’s inaction on a national policy.

The Senate voted 35-0 on Tuesday for House changes to Sen. Pat Connick’s bill to let the student athletes profit off the use of their name, image and likeness, the final vote needed to send the measure to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. The Democratic governor hasn’t taken a public position on the bill but made no attempt to stop passage.

Connick, R-Marrero, said at least 15 states have passed similar legislation.

“If Louisiana is left behind, we’ll be at a competitive disadvantage,” said Rep. John Stefanski, R-Crowley, who handled the bill in the House.

The NCAA’s attempts to reform its bylaws and permit college athletes to capitalize on their names, images and likenesses have stalled. Federal legislation on the issue is pending in Congress.

Frustrated with inaction, states have started passing their own laws. The first name, image and likeness laws are slated to begin in July, but Louisiana’s law wouldn’t start that quickly. The bill requires each university system governing board to adopt implementation policies before the endorsement and sponsorship deals could begin.

Under Connick’s bill, compensation would be allowed only in deals struck with outside, third-party groups unaffiliated with the school. Deals could not involve tobacco, alcohol, illegal substances, banned athletic substances or gambling. Athletes would have to disclose the contracts to their colleges, and the schools could block certain deals.