Lawmakers to introduce bill allowing college athletes to get paid

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Some states are taking notice after California made a controversial push toward paying collegiate athletes, Pennsylvania included.

State Rep. Dan Miller (D-Allegheny) said this is actually a worker’s freedom issue. Any other 18 to 22-year-old can enter into any kind of contract or deal that they wish, while athletes who help earn their coaches six and seven-figure salaries are left on the bench financially.  

“We’re talking about your likeness, not somebody else’s likeness. They’re paying you for your likeness. Why shouldn’t they? And why shouldn’t those kids get that?” said Brian Cobb, a Steelton graduate and former All-American wide receiver for Rutgers University.

“Schools are paying for the education. I find it difficult to want to make money on their likeness, as well,” said Dave Bitting, the athletic director of Lower Dauphin High School.

The bill would allow students to sign endorsement deals, earn money for their name and likeness, and hire an agent.

For Cobb, the bill would have been a game-changer. He said D1 athletes are cash cows and more than just students. 

“He runs five miles. He works all year long, and he goes to class also. That’s an aspect that an average student doesn’t do,” he said.

Bitting, however, worries that with this kind of bill, athletes will flock to the wrong schools for the wrong reasons. 

“They will pass on schools that are more fitting for them to attend to a higher a level school, thinking that, wow, here’s an opportunity to cash in on my likeness,” Bitting said. 

A likeness that Cobb says is used to make schools rich. 

“We call that exploitation to the nth degree, and they’re gonna do that. So, you should be able to exploit things yourself,” Cobb said.

Bitting believes there are alternatives.

“They’re there for the education first and the athletics are secondary, and if they want to be professional athletes, then they have that choice,” Bitting said.

But both men agree that athletes shouldn’t get blank checks. 

“I think there has to be more benefits given to the student-athletes, but at this point and time, I think they receive a lot as it is,” Bitting said.

A lot to some, not enough to others. 

“Whatever your vehicle is, you ride it,” Cobb said.

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