Congressman, former Ohio State football player proposing national bill for paying college athletes

CLEVELAND — U.S. congressman from Ohio and former OSU football player Anthony Gonzalez is planning to propose a national bill for paying college athletes.

This development comes at the heels of California's passage of state legislation that prohibits colleges from punishing college athletes if they accept money in exchange for the use of their name, likeness and image. This goes into effect in 2023.

The college athlete debate, which has heated up in the last couple of years, is gaining steam.

"Part of it's pride of the schools. So, you start paying these kids and maybe it takes away from that. It starts becoming all about me. But at the same time you're using them to draw money for your own good," said one Cleveland State University student who is divided on the matter.

Another student held a more passionate and decided opinion saying, "It's their image. They have a right to their own name. It's not fair for the school to just come in and act like they own you and your name and take all of the money that's rightfully yours."

Gonzalez is planning to introduce national legislation protecting college athletes and giving them the opportunity to make endorsement money.

Another CSU student considered the money that is already in play.

"I think scholarships are kind of a way for paying for students, student-athletes," the student told FOX 8.

Gonzalez says he believes the federal government needs to act quickly. He explained in a statement:

“In principle, I believe college athletes should be able to make money off their name, image and likeness while playing for their schools. What is critical is how we implement that. The current California law is not workable due to its state-by-state approach. We need one national solution that provides safeguards for student-athletes while ensuring they are able to receive income off their name, image and likeness.”

Ted Ginn Sr. of Ted Ginn Academy, whose son played college ball and currently plays for the New Orleans Saints, says he worries about the maturity level of student-athletes and the potential to lose focus.

"The talent is in the kid. So I think if they're profiting off the kid, the kid should get a piece of that as well. To put it in their hand right now, I have mixed emotions about that," said Ginn.

OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith, co-leading an NCAA group to evaluate the association's rules, expressed reservations about a state by state approach until some kind of national guidelines are set.

Gonzalez plans to wait for Smith's recommendation later this month before drafting his legislation.

"Maybe it should be a law. Because we're talking about humans, people. We're not talking about a mechanical player. These kids go through a lot to be a student and an athlete," said Ginn.

A federal bill related to name image and likeness rights has already been introduced by a congressman from North Carolina. Gonzalez says it doesn't include the "guardrails" he thinks are necessary.

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