Trenton – Senator Joe Lagana and Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Senator Sandra B. Cunningham introduced the “New Jersey Fair Play Act” today to allow collegiate student-athletes to earn compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness.
“The restrictions currently placed on our student-athletes are fundamentally unfair. A lot of people, including many at the NCAA, earn large amounts of money off of the blood, sweat and tears of talented young New Jerseyans in this State and, frankly, across the country. As a former college athlete, I witnessed firsthand the sacrifice put in by so many of my peers and cannot overlook the inequality created when students that excel in other disciplines, such as the arts, are not restricted in seeking endorsements,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “I firmly believe this is yet another example of the growing need to defend and expand workers’ rights in all areas. It’s time New Jersey joins California to become the second state in the country to allow our student-athletes to share in the financial benefit they help create on the court or field.”
“Universities are making immense profits from their athletic departments and while students receive scholarships, one serious injury can leave them with no scholarship, no way to pay for the remainder of their degree and no real path on how to move forward with their life or their career,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Things have to change, and that can only happen if we take action. By allowing students to accept endorsements and profit off their likeness, we can put them in control of their future, without having to rely entirely on the goodwill of the school they attend. The time has come for us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our student-athletes and stand up to the NCAA’s outdated, unfair rules.”
The NCAA currently bars its student-athletes from receiving compensation as a result of the students using their name, image or likeness.
Under the bill, an institution of higher education would be prohibited from preventing student-athletes from earning compensation in this manner. This prohibition would also include any student-athlete looking to obtain professional representation, including an agent or lawyer. Opportunities afforded to student-athletes under the bill would also be prohibited from affecting scholarship eligibility.
Images or likeness of student-athletes would not be eligible for use in connection to adult entertainment, alcohol, gambling of any kind, tobacco and electronic smoking, pharmaceuticals, controlled dangerous substances or firearms.
California enacted similar legislation in September 2019. Related legislation is being considered in Florida, New York, South Carolina, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and the United States Congress.