Paying Field: Texas Considers College Athlete Endorsements

Fresh off of Baylor bringing Texas just its second national championship in men's basketball, state lawmakers are looking to ensure Lone Star State colleges and universities remain competitive. State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) has introduced SB 1385, which would allow college athletes in Texas to profit off their name, image and likeness, or to sign with an agent to do so. Similar legislation has also been introduced in the Texas House.

Sen. Creighton tells KTRH he was hoping it wouldn't come to this, and that the NCAA would issue uniform guidance for schools and student-athletes across the country. But, as he says, the NCAA "punted" on the issue. "This is the first bill I've filed in 14 years in the Legislature that when I filed the bill, I was against the concept," says Creighton.

But with several other states now passing their own legislation on the issue, Creighton became convinced Texas can't wait any longer. "It's very unusual for Texas to be taking this measure up after 30 states in the country were already in play," he says. "Six states have actually passed legislation...some of those states---California, Florida, Colorado, Alabama---are some of the largest competitors in recruiting to the universities in Texas."

"We have to decide are we comfortable allowing Texas to be the only state in the Big 12 and SEC conferences that decides to sit on the sidelines for the next two years," continues Creighton.

At a hearing last week, the athletic directors at UT-Austin and Texas A&M both testified in favor of the bill, on the grounds it would keep Texas competitive with other states. Creighton agrees. "The recruiting disadvantages could take our programs backwards five to ten years, if we wait," he says.

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