A decision on Tuesday by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to allow student-athletes to profit from the use of their names, images and likenesses has continued to be a hot topic of discussion across the country. 

One week ago, the concept of "Pay-to-Play" legislation was a topic of discussion during a debate between the two candidates for the New York State 57th Senate district: George Borrello and Austin Morgan.

Focused on recent legislation by the state of California that would allow these measures and alerted that similar legislation had been proposed in the New York State Senate, both candidates agreed that it is not right for colleges and universities to make a significant profit because of student-athletes. 

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“The baseline here is we are taking steps to end the exploitation of students in our colleges,” Morgan said. “As far as I’m concerned, the athletes in our schools shouldn’t be millionaires. But if the school is profiting off of their performance, and if the school is profiting off of their image and products, then I believe those students should see some of that financial return.” 

Borrello agreed but was hesitant to discuss the specifics of California's legislation and subsequently, New York’s legislation. 

“I believe that they should not be exploited and that they should be able to basically reap some of the rewards financially that the schools are from their talents,” he said. “However, this is a difficult issue that needs to be looked at carefully.” 

Borrello added, in a charge to the Democrat-controlled state Senate and Assembly, “I think California jumped into this too quickly and now they’re trying to figure it out. Once again, like New York, they’re really good at trying to build the plane while they’re flying it and this is going to create some chaos within the NCAA and within colleges in general, and we need to step carefully and look at this topic carefully.” 

Since launching his campaign in March, Borrello, the Chautauqua County executive since 2018 and a former county legislator representing the Silver Creek region, has made the danger of the current Democratic majority in Albany a focal point. 

“These are dark times right now in our state capital,” he said. “Now, more than ever, this oppressive, state government is imposing its radical agenda on us all. It’s driving away from our children. It’s eroded our manufacturing base; it’s hurt our farmers and small businesses, and it’s leaving the rest of us to shoulder the burden of this out-of-control state government.” 

Borrello believes his ability to cross party lines, however, will aid him. 

“I have a record of bringing people together and setting goals and then achieving those goals,” he said, noting his push to downsize the county legislature while serving as a member of its body. “We are reversing the cycle of decline in Chautauqua County through hard work and collaboration.” 

Morgan, who spent time working in the state Senate as an intern and staffer, believes that his election to the majority would help deliver more funding and assistance to the district, which includes Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and parts of Livingston counties. 

“As the only candidate with experience in Albany, I think the choice is clear,” Morgan said. “We can either put the car in ‘D’ and drive forward, or we can put it in ‘R’ and go back. We can either elect my opponent to the minority and send him to Albany when he has already made enemies with the people who make decisions there which will make him unable to deliver for this district. Or, we have the choice to send a rural, Western-New-York-values Democrat.” 

The debate between Borrello --- who will appear on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Libertarian lines --- and Morgan --- who will appear on the Democratic and Working Families lines --- took place at St. Bonaventure University’s Bob Koop broadcast lab on Oct. 22 and was hosted by TAPinto Greater Olean, the Jandoli Institute and SBU-TV. 

Voters will have the chance to fill the Senate seat formerly held by Olean Republican Catharine Young, who resigned in March after 14 years of service. The winner of the Nov. 5 election will complete the final year of Young’s unexpired term, before regularly scheduled state elections take place in 2020. 

Click here to view a video of the full debate.

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