The NCAA is opposed, saying in a statement the legislation will "erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics."

That's pretty rich coming from the organization that makes millions upon millions of dollars off of the backs of "student-athletes," yet leaps in to penalize those same student athletes if they receive so much as a steak dinner for their efforts.

Illinois State Rep. Chris Welch introduced a bill in Springfield similar to a recent bill signed into law in California, which allows college athletes to earn money for their images, names or likenesses. The college athletes can also sign agents and cannot be removed from a team if they receive money. Welch said he wants Illinois to be on a level playing field with California.

"I think universities have made millions off the backs of student athletes for years, but students have made nothing," Welch said.

Welch introduced his legislation on the same day California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that allows college athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsement deals with sponsors, despite objections from the NCAA.

The law, which would take effect in 2023, makes California the first state to pass a law allowing college athletes to profit off their own likenesses.

Allen Sanderson, a University of Chicago economist, predicts the California law will withstand a challenge in court.

"I think college football and basketball players are the most exploited workers in the U.S. economy," Sanderson said.


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