Congressman Anthony Gonzalez plans to propose a national law that would allow college athletes to make money from endorsement deals, according to ESPN.
Gonzalez, a former Ohio State wide receiver who now represents Ohio's 16th district as a Republican, told ESPN he thinks the federal government needs to act after California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law on Monday.
Under the new law, which takes effect in 2023, college athletes in California can be compensated for the commerical use of their names, images and likeness. The law also allows college athletes to hire agents who can help them negotiate and secure commercial opportunities. The Fair Pay to Play Act does not create a right for college athletes to be paid by their schools. Instead, it addresses how various businesses use athletes' identities.
"I actually think that we need to do something quickly, within the next year," Gonzalez said, according to ESPN. "I don't think you have three years to figure this out. I think decisions will start happening immediately."
Gonzalez played at Ohio State under coach Jim Tressel for three years before spending five NFL seasons with the Colts. He said he spoke with Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who is the co-leader of the NCAA's working group set to review its name, image and likeness rights policies and ways to possibly change them. Smith is scheduled to report the group's findings to the NCAA's board of governors at the end of October. Gonzalez plans to wait to draft any legislation until Smith shares the working group's findings.
However, Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina has already introduced a federal bill related to college athletes's name, image and likeness rights. Walker proposed amending the tax code to force schools to allow student athletes to make money from endorsements or lose their non-profit tax exemptions. Walker's bill is currently with the Ways and Means Committee.
Gonzalez said he has spoken to members of Congress about Walker's bill, but he hasn't talked with Walker directly. He would like to see a federal law that includes protecting student athletes from people trying to take advantage of them—something not currently included in Walker's legislation.
"There are a lot of people who are trying to get a piece of the athlete who do not have their best interest in mind and are out for nefarious means," he told ESPN. "You can imagine a world where, if there were no guardrails in place, that it could get out of hand pretty quickly. ...How do you do this to provide necessary and deserved benefits while not inviting a bigger problem alongside it?"