On Feb. 3, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 94 — known as the “Student Athlete Endorsement Act” — clearing a hurdle for the bill to become law and allow student-athletes to make money from their name, image and likeness (NIL).
Similar laws passed or proposed in sundry states across the country would allow student-athletes to profit from their NIL, with several due to take effect on July 1.
Thus, if a student were to appear in a commercial and earn money off the appearance, for example, a “post-secondary educational institution” — i.e. the University of New Mexico — couldn’t prevent that athlete from doing the commercial or receiving compensation from the appearance.
SB 94 also aims to prohibit UNM from either withholding or revoking an athlete’s scholarship due to the athlete participating in commercials and profiting from them. Another part of the bill would allow student-athletes to hire legal professional representation without consequence.
The bill was sponsored by Sens. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque and Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque.
Ramogi Huma, president of the nonprofit advocacy group College Athletes Players Association, was present for the virtual committee meeting and urged committee members to pass the bill.
SB 94 passed the education committee with a 7-1 vote, with Shannon D. Pinto, D-Tohatchi, voting against.
In a statement, Moores, a former UNM football player, said he sponsored the bill because “our student-athletes deserve the opportunity to earn a living.”
UNM football head coach Danny Gonzales, in response to a question at a Feb. 3 press conference about whether the bill would be a valuable recruiting tool, voiced support for its passage.
“When I took the job, I said that it was going to take everybody, and that was a big part of (coming to UNM),” Gonzales said. “Now that they are changing the rules a little bit, if we want to be big time, people are going to have to step up.”
Gonzales said that the bill could “be a recruitment tool” but added that “it depends on how the people around here want to help, and so far they’re saying and doing all of the right things.”
The bill now heads to the majority-Democrat Senate Judiciary Committee, though it currently has no hearing date.
Spencer Butler is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SpencerButler48