Gov. Pritzker signs student athlete compensation bill

Chicago News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill Tuesday that will bring big changes for student athletes — allowing them to get compensated.

Pritzker was in Champaign to sign the bill at the University of Illinois. As soon as next month, student athletes will be able to hire agents and sign endorsement deals.

The legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in January — and starting July 1, student athletes will be able to profit from their name, image and likeness.

It’s an opportunity that wasn’t available to Mary Kate Casey Wallenberg while she played lacrosse at Northwestern.

“When you play sports it doesn’t actually mean that everyone is on a full ride. A lot of our parents are figuring out how to make it work,” said Wallenberg.

The physical therapist, who now trains elite athletes, still had student loans to pay off when she graduated.

“Some of my teammates, you know they were some of the best lacrosse players in the world and even coming out of college they didn’t have the financial backing that they probably could have,” said Wallenberg.

There has been similar movement across the country to make sure student athletes are allowed to benefit financially from their talents.

Even the NCAA has expressed support for such a move, but there are still some rules. They can’t endorse brands that could cause embarrassment, scandal or ridicule to their college or university. They can’t be the face or the name of certain products like vapes or alcohol.

Supporters of the bill said it wasn’t fair to students to see everybody else making money, when they are the ones bringing fans to the stands to spend money. It’s about fairness.

The NCAA still prohibits student athletes from being paid to play.

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