Chicago, IL - The proposal to pay college athletes in Illinois is gaining more support as the best in the NBA arrive in Chicago for the All-Star Weekend.
"Colleges, universities and the NCAA are making billions off of these student athletes," said Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Hillside). "Student athletes should be allowed to profit off their own name, likeness and image."
Welch was joined Friday morning by two former Illinois high school basketball standouts. Shannon Brown was recognized as Illinois Mr. Basketball in 2003 before he went to college to play for Michigan State University. The two-time NBA champion played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers among others. His younger brother Sterling currently plays for the NBA's top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks. Both support the plan to help college athletes get paid for their efforts.
"If they can get a little something while they're in college and they got that hype and that buzz around their name - everybody is buying their jerseys and everybody is watching them - they can help their family," said Sterling Brown. "Why not? It's going to be a great situation."
Like many college athletes, Brown mentioned he sacrificed a lot with long nights in the gym and games on most weekends he could have spent with family.
No time to waste
The Student Athletes Endorsement Act passed out of the House with an 86-25 vote in October before it stalled in the Senate. Now, supporters hope the plan will pass out of the chamber before the second half of this legislative session.
"Do it tomorrow! Write a story," exclaimed famous sports marketer Sonny Vaccaro. "These kids are earners for people that don't appreciate them."
Welch feels confident his bill will pass out of the Senate under the leadership of new President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). But he says there is no time to waste.
"This is about equity and fairness, and it's long overdue. We need this bill called in the Senate. We need it called next week," Welch said.
If the bill passes and is approved by Gov. JB Pritzker, it would take effect on January 1, 2023.