University of Georgia

Bill seeks to pay college athletes in Georgia

ATLANTA — A DeKalb County lawmaker wants to make it legal to pay college athletes for the use of their name or image. That lawmaker worries not doing that could hurt recruitment to Georgia schools.

College athletics is big business not just in Georgia, but all across the nation.

Schools and corporations make big bucks off college sports, but college athletes, other than getting a free education, don't make a dime.

Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain, wants to change that.

"I see a variety of instances by which there could be some compensation for even the athletes who don't receive a lot of notoriety," Mitchell said.

A similar law just passed in California and one is making its way through the Florida legislature.


Mitchell worries that if given a choice, elite athletes would rather go to one of those states than come play in Georgia.

"As I like to say, if we do not do something and the other states do, then we put Georgia in a definitive recruiting disadvantage," Mitchell told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot.

Elliot met with state Rep. Bruce Thompson, R-Bartow County, at Lakepoint, one of the world's top youth sports complexes.

"I don't think it's going to affect a recruiting class. I mean, if you look right now, some of your top four quarterbacks in the country came from Georgia," Thompson said.

Elliot asked Gov. Brian Kemp about the idea. He said he'd like more time to look over the proposal.

"I hadn't looked at that legislation. There's a lot of issues going through the session, and I look forward to seeing what they're proposing," Kemp said.

Even if a law passed this year, it wouldn't go into effect until 2023.

The NCAA's rules prohibit players from accepting compensation from outside sources. Mitchell said the NCAA is bound to obey the laws of the state it operates in.

The bill would also allow players to hire agents to represent them, and would prohibit schools from removing athletes' eligibility because they earn money.