Trenton, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Lagana (38th District), Senate Higher Education Chair Senator Sandra Cunningham (31st District)  and Senate Majority Leader (37th District) Loretta Weinberg, which would allow collegiate student-athletes to earn compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness, advanced from the Senate today. The legislation is also known as the “New Jersey Fair Play Act”. 

Ed. Note  Hasbrouck Heights is in the 38th District.  

“The restrictions currently placed on our student-athletes are fundamentally unfair. Far too many people at the NCAA earn exorbitant 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,” said 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. The time has come for New Jersey to do the right thing and become the second state in the country to allow student-athletes to share in the financial benefit they help create on the court, field or diamond.”

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“At the same time universities and the NCAA collect hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, student-athletes are given a stipend and an ‘education,’” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “These elite athletes spend well over 40 hours a week practicing, training and preforming with no guarantee of a professional career, or even a complete education. This is not only unfair, it’s exploitation. While the NCAA drags its feet, I’m glad this bill will give student-athletes new rights to compensation, at least in New Jersey.”  

The NCAA currently bars its student-athletes from receiving compensation based on the student’s name, image or likeness. However, the NCAA has begun early plans to allow student-athletes to profit from their name in some capacity.

The bill, S-971, 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.  

“As the NCAA develops a more coherent plan student-athletes can be compensated for their incredibly valuable work, we will continue to fight for the betterment of all college athletes,” continued Senator Lagana.

Under the bill, 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, and similar legislation is being considered in Florida, New York, South Carolina, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and the United States Congress.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 21-11.