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Uncertainty surrounds Illinois student-athlete endorsement bill

CARBONDALE (WSIL) — Sitting inside his office at Lingle Hall on the SIU Carbondale campus, Kevin Kendrick recalls his days as a student-athlete at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.

He remembers playing against future Major League Baseball star Rickie Weeks, a player who drew the attention of numerous scouts at the time.

But like every other college player, Weeks was never compensated for his exposure.

"I remember all the media attention that he received," Kendrick said. "He didn’t receive a dime. But the institution benefited off of his performance on the baseball field."

Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would allow student-athletes to be compensated for their likenesses on merchandise, jersey sales, and endorsements starting in 2023.

Kendrick, the associate athletic director for compliance at SIU, says there are several questions and concerns regarding a similar bill proposed in Illinois.

"There are so many things that would need to be addressed if you go down that road such as amateurism," Kendrick said. "Agents become an issue, runners, financial advisers all of a sudden become an issue."

State Rep. Emanuel Welch (D-7th Dist.) filed the Student Athlete Endorsement Act last month. It is similar to the California bill.

John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, believes the bill has a good chance at becoming law, adding that it would most likely benefit bigger schools with more resources.

"It’s a rich-get-richer game already and it’s going to perhaps be more of a rich-get-richer game but it’s going to spread some of those riches to the players," Jackson said.

State Rep. Dave Severin (R-117th Dist.) says the bill will be up for discussion at the next veto session scheduled for October 28. Severin believes the bill could be a way to assist student-athletes who are too busy practicing or competing to hold a steady job.

"There are young men and women that are phenomenal athletes that are literally just barely getting by even though they have full-ride scholarship, because they don’t have the opportunity to work," Severin said.

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News 3 Staff

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