CLEMSON, S.C. - South Carolina lawmakers are planning to propose a bill in January that would allow college athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses.
One of the best players on Clemson's undefeated football team believes the move to allow college athletes to make money from endorsement deals is overdue.
Tigers linebacker Isaiah Simmons, a projected first-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft, would like to see players be able to earn money outside of the current scholarship and cost of attendance they are provided.
California's state legislature last month became the first one in the United States to pass a controversial proposal allowing college athletes to profit from their fame by earning endorsement money.
S.C. Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, and Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg, told The State they plan to file a bill similar to California's SB 206 proposal when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
"I think they're late. I think it should've already happened. You see the main players from teams, most of the time quarterbacks, receivers, running backs - some way, somehow, their jersey just magically appears in that store," Simmons told The State on Monday. "I feel like if other people can get your signature and sell it, then I feel like you should be able to too, because you're the one that's working hard to make a name for yourself.
"So I'm all for it. I don't really see what the issue would be."
The topic has been discussed more and more recently as salaries for coaches continue to rise and television money has helped turn the sport into a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney signed a 10-year, $93 million contract extension in the offseason.
"You can't really say it takes away from the amateurism of the game, because I don't really feel like this is an amateur's game. I just don't see how you can say it is," Simmons said. "I don't think we should be paid like the pros, obviously. But a lot of people struggle in college. You see the really nice contracts from the coaches and it's like, 'Dang, it would be nice if we could get paid a little bit more, at least off our likeness.' I feel like that's the only fair way to do it, because you have to work for what you earn. That's really the only fair way."
Simmons clarified that he does not believe players should receive a salary, but he is in favor of them being able to earn money from endorsement deals.
Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, did not take a strong stance on the topic one way or the other. He did point out that the proposal in California would not take effect until 2023, long after he has left Clemson.
"It won't affect me any because I'll be gone by then, but with all of that stuff there's good and bad to both sides," Lawrence said. "I think there's arguments for not doing it and also players being able to benefit from that. I'm kind of on the fence. I think there's good and bad to both sides."
Swinney, who is one of the two highest paid coaches in the country along with Nick Saban, has said in the past that he is against players receiving a salary. But Swinney has not offered an opinion on the recent legislation.
"I ain't got no thoughts ... They need people a lot smarter than me to figure out that stuff," he said earlier this season. "I don't know enough about it, really, just don't need to. It doesn't affect me at all."
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