HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — College athletes in Pennsylvania will soon be able to profit off their own image and likeness. It’s a provision in the new state budget.

This has been a controversy for decades. Schools make millions of dollars using images of athletes, but those athletes can’t make a dime.

“I always figured that if you can get paid for my likeness, I should be able to get paid for my likeness,” Brian Cobb said. “I think it’s long overdue. I think it’s fair.”

Cobb played football for Steelton High School and went on to play for Rutgers University.

“The full ride is great, but you get a lot of guys who get the full ride but they’re from lower-income families, so they really don’t have things. One guy couldn’t even get a suit to be on the Heisman show,” Cobb said.

Pa. Sen. Scott Martin (R – Lancaster County) says he too came from a relatively poor family. He was a scholarship athlete at Millersville University.

“I wasn’t allowed to have a job and so you think I went from playing football to wrestling to spring football and throughout that whole period of time I couldn’t even put gas hardly in my car,” Martin said.

That’s why he voted Friday to include a provision in the state budget to allow student-athletes to accept endorsements and monetize their celebrity status on personal time.

“Let’s say that Micah Parsons wanted to go have a football camp in Harrisburg on his own and he could do that and he could make money from having a football camp on his own,” Martin said.

The plan also requires royalties to be paid for team jersey sales and video games featuring them.
Any compensation cannot impact student-athlete scholarships.

“The school is not responsible for paying the compensation,” Martin said. “There are certain aspects of things in life athletes aren’t allowed to get involved with, related to gambling, adult entertainment, drugs.”

Martin said since the NCAA isn’t changing course, it was time for Pennsylvania to act.

“There’s a couple dozen states that have already passed this into law starting July 1, so talk about being put at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting,” Martin said.

Under the plan, the student-athletes must use an outside agent to negotiate the terms of these agreements. Colleges and universities are not permitted to use the compensation as a basis for reducing or revoking the student’s athletic scholarships.

The provision will go into effect immediately when the governor signs the budget this week.