Turns out Oregon lawmakers are tuned into sports scene in our state. I just hope they follow through and get a couple of bills they’re currently writing turned into laws in the upcoming legislative session.
State Sen. Peter Courtney called me on Friday morning. It was a highly entertaining and blustery call. Anyone who has ever interacted with the 78-year old Senate President knows he could read the phone book and make it entertaining. But it’s what he shared that got my attention.
Here are the details:
♦ Lawmakers are proposing a bill that would allow student-athletes to collect royalty payments when a merchandiser (i.e. Nike, Adidas, etc.) makes a college jersey with their number on it. It would include royalties for video games makers that use their likeness and extend to trading card companies. Essentially, it boosts current name-image-likeness legislation and puts Oregon at the opportunistic front in an ever-shifting college landscape.
The bill mirrors legislation in Pennsylvania and would give athletes in those two states more flexibility and opportunities vs. college athletes in other states. Courtney brought up former Oregon Ducks standout Sabrina Ionescu as an example. The Nike-issued jersey featuring her number was a huge hit while she was in college and under this legislation Ionescu could have received a pile of royalties while playing.
The proposed bill would also open some opportunities for other students on campus. It would allow student-athletes to receive financial, legal and accounting assistance from students on campus. You’d essentially open the door for student-athletes to work closely alongside fellow non-athlete students who are gaining proficiency in business disciplines. Those students would paid by the university for their “consulting” work. Under previous legislation those kind of relationships would be deemed “agent” relationships and threaten NCAA eligibility.
♦ Sen. Courtney confirmed that his office is also writing a bill that would clear the path for bettors in our state to gamble on college sporting events. Prior legislation outlawed it, but attitudes nationally have shifted and the Supreme Court legalized sports wagering nationally a couple of years ago.
The NCAA used to frown on states that allowed sports wagering and avoid holding championship events in those locations. But that stance has moved dramatically in the last five years. What remains, though, is outdated legislation in Oregon that outlaws gambling on college events.
I wrote a column on the subject this week. Courtney isn’t much of a gambler but I think he recognizes that our state is operating under out-dated laws on the subject. Also, LSU and Michigan State recently signed seven-figure sponsorship deals with sports book operators. There’s a pile of untapped revenue out there as the Oregon Lottery is turning over operations of its sports-wagering operation to DraftKings effective Jan. 18.
Who knows if lawmakers will adopt and pass both bills, but I like that sports is top of mind right now. Oregon and Oregon State, particularly, are in a race against other universities for competitive advantages in the new world of Name-Image-Likeness.
The first bill is a home run move that gives Oregon an advantage.
The second feels like a no-brainer.
You can currently wager on the NFL, MLB, NBA, soccer, cricket and go-kart races. But we’re the only state where legal sports wagering exists that doesn’t allow you to bet on, say, the Alabama-Georgia national championship football game. After income taxes, the lottery is our state’s second biggest revenue generator. Feels like the sports-wagering piece of this has a chance to add millions in revenue for a state that badly needs fresh funding. The addition of college sports wagering on the menu not only makes sense, but would allow the Ducks and Beavers to seek those seven-figure deals like Michigan State and LSU.
The upcoming legislative session begins Feb. 1 in Salem.
Courtney will join me on the statewide radio show today at 1 p.m. and we’ll discuss both bills in detail. Listen live: Portland (750-AM), Eugene (1050-AM), Klamath Falls (960-AM), Roseburg (1490-AM) or stream it at BaldFacedTruth.com.
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