Legislators seek law change over recruiting flap at University of Memphis

State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Rep. Antoni Parkinson (D-Memphis) want to change state law to address a college basketball recruiting crisis brewing at the University of Memphis.

Here’s the full release:

Nashville, Tenn. – Senator Brian Kelsey’s (R-Germantown) bipartisan bill to allow college athletes to profit from their likeness will also prohibit public universities from discriminating against players based on coach donations to universities.

“We want to encourage our former players to donate to our public universities to help keep college tuition affordable,” Sen. Kelsey said. “Discouraging these donations is not worth appeasing an organization that does nothing but take down banners from our rafters. The NCAA is an archaic organization whose time has come and gone. It is up to the athletic conferences to create a new paradigm, as they did with the college football championship.”

In May, the Senate unanimously approved Sen. Kelsey’s resolution calling for the state’s public universities to oppose the NCAA prohibition on compensation for college athletes and instructing Tennessee’s nine public universities to work with their respective athletic conferences in opposition to the rules and to implement a system which is fair to college athletes. 

In September, California passed legislation empowering college athletes to profit from their image and likeness, autographs, and endorsements, allowing compensation to be determined by the free market. Sen. Kelsey announced that he will introduce legislation in Tennessee modeled after the California bill, instituting the Olympic model of compensation for college athletes in Tennessee. Today, he announced additional language to ban public universities from discriminating against players based on donations to the university by a coach.

“Peyton Manning donated $1 million to the University of Tennessee last year,” Sen. Kelsey said. “Does that mean that he can never become a coach and invite his players over for popcorn to watch a bowl selection show? This arcane NCAA rule would discourage Eric Berry from donating to the University of Tennessee in case he wants to ever become the UT defensive backs coach.”

The General Assembly will begin its next legislative session on January 14, 2020.

“The legislature supports our college athletes, our coaches, and our state universities,” Sen. Kelsey said. “If the NCAA doesn’t correct this injustice by January, we’ll do it for them.”

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) plans to sponsor this legislation in the House.

“I want to remind everyone that state law trumps any rule that is created by the NCAA,” Rep. Parkinson said. “Unfortunately those rules created by the NCAA are harmful to the student athletes who actually generate the revenue in college sports. Lastly, if you remove the student athletes, the NCAA becomes nothing but a useless organization.”

7 Responses to Legislators seek law change over recruiting flap at University of Memphis

  • James White says:

    Let them get the money, but STOP A L L STATE money to the universities.

  • Perry Aubric says:

    James’s bizarre insanity about no state money for state universities aside, allowing college athletes to get paid simply allows —just for instance— Jimmy Haslam to offer endorsement deals for his gas stations to any AAA players looking for a college team. The big universities with big donors get into bidding wars. That doesn’t seem like a very good development for college athletics.

    I don’t know the best option. Certainly not right for an athlete not to get any profits from the use of his own image. Or to do the work while the school takes in the cash. Perhaps any money is put into trust until graduation or for four years, whichever comes first.

    • James White says:

      I am for privatization of not only primary schools but secondary schools as well. I am also for Home school and family’s getting together and hiring teachers and neighborhood’s getting together and hiring teachers and renting buildings. (get Federal and STATE government out of the education business)

      The problem I have with Kelsey and his bills is that if he doesn’t like something, then he wants to use his power as a legislature and writhe a Law to fix it. We do not need More Government. And we sure don’t need this bill.

      The solution is simple. If the University doesn’t like the NCAA rules, then they should ask they be changed or they should leave the NCAA.

      • Silence Dogood says:

        I agree with James on this issue. If you don’t want to follow NCAA rules then quit. Surely the Legislature has more important things to spend their time on?

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  • Eddie White says:

    As a UT supporter, I would appreciate it if the two Memphis legislators would not drag UT into their sordid Memphis affair. The fact that the kid was the # 1 recruit in the nation, and that evidently the UM coach gave him $11,500 to help him move from Nashville to Memphis prior to his hiring at Memphis, certainly has nothing to do with this situation.

  • Beatrice Shaw says:

    I say pay the athletes, but make them give their money to help with teacher raises and free education programs for more students. Maybe start with paying off all student loans for teachers

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