Athletic directors for two of the state’s Division I universities cautioned lawmakers Wednesday about the perils of a nationwide march toward paying college sports stars.
Jeff Long, of the University of Kansas, and Gene Taylor, of Kansas State University, testified before a Senate panel considering a proposal that would allow student athletes to receive compensation from their name, image and likeness.
Long and Taylor offered cautious support for the plan, which levels the playing field if other states unlock restrictions. The proposed legislation requires 15 other states to pass similar measures before athletes at Kansas colleges and universities would be free to negotiate deals.
California already has given a green light to compensation for name, image and likeness.
Long said the California model, which takes effect in 2023, alters the landscape of college sports and places other states at a disadvantage. Kansas universities need to compete, he said, but can’t lose focus of the services they provide to students who won’t make the cut as professional athletes.
"We're keeping that base educational core for that 98% who don't have a name, image and likeness they can sell,“ Long said, ”so they still have their tuition, room, board, books and fees and get to compete for the Jayhawks and love the experience and learn from all those wonderful things that athletics teaches people. That's where we're focused.“
Taylor said K-State will have to invest more resources into investigating relationships between athletes and agents to ensure the school is complying with NCAA rules.
He expressed concern that the Kansas law could take effect quickly because 30 states already are considering similar legislation. He asked lawmakers to hold off on adopting legislation until next year, when a coalition of colleges will produce their own proposal.
"Just allow us some time,“ Taylor said. ”If we come up with something and then states still don't agree with it, they have the opportunity to move forward with their legislation."
Emporia State University president Allison Garrett also testified in support of the proposal in front of the Senate Commerce Committee while highlighting a number of concerns.
The monitoring of deals arranged between athletes and other interests will be “a very complex area,” she said. She asked for assurance that the new model won’t be used to incentive recruiting. And like her peers at bigger universities, she wants to avoid turning college athletes into employees.
Garrett said it would be better to have congress provide a single, nationwide standard.
Matt Lindsey, president of the Kansas Independent College Association, said schools in his organization are worried about conflicts with their values.
The legislation would allow college athletes at faith-based schools to allow their image to be used in marketing campaigns that tolerate premarital sex or promote the sale of alcohol, he said.
He proposed installing a way for independent schools to opt out of the compensation plan or veto third-party contracts.