Potential New Tax Law Would Allow NCAA Athletes to Profit From Their Image

On March 14, 2019, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) introduced a bill that would allow NCAA athletes to profit from their image and likeness. The Student-Athlete Equity Act, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), would amend the definition of an “amateur” in the federal tax code and would allow NCAA student-athletes to get paid when they, or more specifically their image, appears in video games, advertisements, and other public media.

In a statement, Rep. Walker said, “Signing an athletic scholarship with a school should not be a moratorium on your rights to your name, image, and self-worth. It’s time to bring equity to student-athletes and fix the injustices that exist in the current NCAA model. After nearly two years of discussions with players and leaders, we are introducing legislation that won’t cost the NCAA or our schools a single dollar, while empowering college athletes with the same opportunities that every American should have in a free-market.”

While the NCAA criticized the Bill, saying it is unnecessary and may only benefit a small number of students while creating unintended consequences and harming opportunities for others, it appears this could be yet another step towards full compensation for NCAA student-athletes.

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