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caption: Washington running back Myles Gaskin, top, scores past Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield during the second half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif.
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Washington running back Myles Gaskin, top, scores past Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield during the second half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif.
Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Pay student athletes, WA lawmaker says. The NCAA makes millions off them

Washington would be the first state legislature in the country to allow student athletes to be compensated, under a legislative proposal.

Drew Stokesbary, a Republican state representative from Auburn, presented his bill to lawmakers on Wednesday. It would allow college athletes to hire agents, make sponsorship deals, and receive other compensation.

"The NCAA generate billions of dollars worth of revenue each year," Stokesbary said. "Everybody is getting extremely wealthy off of this system, except for the college athletes themselves."

Stokesbary says his bill would supersede NCAA rules that ban athlete pay. He says he believes the bill would withstand possible legal challenges. Stokesbary wants to write it into Washington state law that it's a violation of state antitrust laws for the NCAA or an athletic conference to prohibit students from being paid for their services.

The proposal faces criticism from other state lawmakers. Among those criticisms is whether it would put the state or colleges in legal trouble, whether it is fair to non-athlete students, and whether "the introduction of money has the potential of corrupting the system," a concern raised Wednesday by Robert Sutherland, a new Republican representative Snohomish County, raised on Wednesday.

Stokesbary argued back that other college students are allowed to earn pay for working in their field, such as a chemistry student taking a job in a chemistry lab.

"This bill is not about paying athletes, it's merely about leveling the playing field between athletes and non athletes," he said.

That argument is also facing push-back. Gerry Pollet, a Democrat from Seattle, noted that if a student did research that brought in thousands of dollars to the university, that student would not get compensated, just as athletes who bring in athletic revenue don't get compensated now.

House Bill 1084 has not yet faced a vote in the legislature.