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Nevada may consider letting college athletes get paid

CARSON CITY — Nevada could follow in California’s footsteps and allow athletes who play for the state’s universities to make money from endorsement deals and other uses of their names, images or likenesses.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the measure into law in an online episode of “The Shop,” a talk show produced by the LeBron James co-founded digital media company Uninterrupted. The law will allow student-athletes in California to hire agents, sign endorsement deals and even make money from previously forbidden avenues such as signing autographs and coaching youth sports.

With California’s first-in-the-nation law now on the books, Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, who played running back for the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 1990 1-AA national championship team, and state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, said Monday that they are in the early stages of exploring similar legislation in the Silver State. Nevada’s Legislature does not meet again until February 2021.

“California’s bill is a game changer because it will force other states to figure out how to compete with California’s recruitment practices,” Cancela said.

Cancela started following the law as it made its way through the California Legislature this year. When supporters started to talk about the proposal as a workers rights issue, it piqued the interest of the former political director of the Culinary Local 226, Nevada’s largest union.

“With my background as a union leader and as someone who thinks workers rights are one of the most important things that we can take leadership on in elected office, I thought this was an interesting issue,” Cancela said.

Cancela said she doesn’t have a formalized proposal yet and is still in the research process as she looks for “a proposal that fits Nevada.”

Other states, including South Carolina, New York and Florida, are also considering similar legislation.

For Nevada, similar legislation could be seen as a way of allowing UNLV and Nevada to stay competitive when it comes to recruiting. Student athletes at three of the Mountain West Conference’s other programs — San Diego State, San Jose State and Fresno State — will be able to profit off of their personal brand when it goes into effect in 2023 barring any legal challenges to the law.

The Mountain West Conference did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

In a statement issued Monday, the NCAA said California’s new law “is creating confusion” for athletes and that as more states consider their own legislation, “it is clear that a patchwork of different laws from different states will make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field.”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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