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Legislature approves effort to compensate college athletes for use of their likeness 


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bipartisan effort to allow college athletes to be compensated for the use of their likeness is progressing to the governor’s desk as part of a higher education reform package. 

The Senate substitute for HB 297 included language that would prevent colleges from prohibiting or punishing a student-athlete who earns compensation for the use of his or her image, likeness, name, or athletic reputation. The language also stipulated that an athlete’s stipend or grant-in-aid eligibility should not be impacted by compensation. 

Sen. Greg Razer attached the language to another bill as an amendment earlier this session. 

“What we’re talking about is allowing the Olympic model in the NCAA — allowing our student-athletes to earn money off their name, image and likeness through endorsements,” Razer previously told The Missouri Times. “To date, 11 states have NIL legislation signed into law and Georgia has a bill sitting on the governor’s desk. Allowing these athletes to make money off their own name, image, and likeness is long overdue, and it’s time Missouri moves on this legislation.”

GOP Rep. Nick Schroer added a similar amendment to a Senate bill last week as well. Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden voiced his support for the effort, pointing to student-athletes at the University of Missouri in his district. 

The language prohibits student-athletes from contractually allowing an apparel, beverage, or equipment company from using his or her likeness or name in exchange for the athlete to display the product or company’s logo during official team activities if it violates the college’s own contracts or licenses. College athletes must also disclose to the school compensation contracts. 

With approval from both chambers, the package heads to the governor’s desk for final approval. 

The NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to allow student-athletes to be paid for their likeness in 2019; the move came after California adopted the Fair Pay to Play Act preventing schools from punishing athletes who sell the rights to their name, image, or likeness.

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, and Mississippi are other states with SEC schools that have regulations in place allowing student-athletes to be compensated. Proposals in Georgia and South Carolina are awaiting the governors’ signatures. 

The underlying bill began with a mission statement for Southeast Missouri State University, but grew to include a myriad of higher education provisions, including the removal of the cap on public college tuition increases, the establishment of an informational database on universities and programs through the Student’s Right to Know Act, and setting 10 members for the governing board of the Missouri State University. 

Several members in the House called for increased funding for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), namely Harris-Stowe State University, in the future. The package passed the lower chamber 145-8.