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State lawmakers renew push to allow student-athletes to profit off their image

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL)- There is a renewed bi-partisan push at the state capitol to allow student-athletes in Iowa to be compensated. This week, two State Senators Nate Boulton, D-Polk County and Brad Zaun, R-Polk County, introduced a bill that would let college athletes profit off their name, image, and likeness.

"We look at this as an issue the NCAA has failed on," Sen. Boulton said. "We have to step up and protect our student-athletes here in Iowa."

The bill is similar to the one that made it out of the Senate education committee and subcommittees in both the Iowa House and Senate.

Last year's bill included an option for universities to require a trust account for students. The funds would be held in the trust until the athletes were no longer eligible to compete.

This year's bill does not include that.

"No other state is doing that," Boulton said. "We don't want to see our athletes in Iowa put into a position athletes in other states are not."

Similar legislation on the topic has been passed in other states.

"If you are a successful philosophy student and you want to write a book and go out and put your name on it, you can do that. There is no interference with your scholarship," Boulton said. "If you are an athlete, you can't. That does seem unfair."

Several current and former high-profile athletes, including Iowa basketball players Jordan Bohannon and Caitlin Clark and former Drake basketball player Adam Emmenecker consulted with lawmakers on the bill.

"The college years are some of the most valuable years of many college athletes’ lives," Bohannon said in a statement. "We’ve been denied basic rights and protections for far too long."

 “As a female college athlete, valuable opportunities could come in our college career that may not be given at a professional level, especially with the support of female athletics we have here in the state of Iowa," Clark added. "The bill gives student-athletes opportunities non-athlete students already have."

Boulton said talking with athletes like Clark made him realize how much the conversation also needs to be about equity.

"Female athletes really do have one high watermark for their name, image likeability and that is their college years," he said. "After those days, unless you become an Olympic gold medalist, you really don't see female athletes having any similar name, likeness, marketing power to male athletes."

Boulton said almost all of the athletes who worked with him on the bill were not fighting for themselves, but for the athletes who come after them. He is optimistic the bill will get across the finish line this year. If it does, it will take effect on July 1.

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Daniel Perreault

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