By Mugo Odigwe

CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday signed major legislation that allows student athletes in Illinois to receive compensation.

CBS 2’s Mugo Odigwe spoke with one of the state representatives who pushed to make it happen.

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“To be able put some policy into action on something that’s extremely personal to me, something that I have a bunch of intimate experience with, this is a huge day for all of us,” said State Rep. Kam Buckner (26th District).

Years ago, as a University of Illinois football player, Buckner couldn’t make money from his own likeness.

“For instance, if you are a chemistry major you still have the ability to get a fair market compensation for use of your name and your likeness and your image. You can’t do that, however, if you are a scholarship football player or tennis player or hockey player.”

Now, as an Illinois lawmaker, he sponsored a bill that will allow current and future atheletes to do just that. With Pritzker’s signature,
student athletes can get paid for their names, images and even voices.

“The thing that folks are talking about the most obviously is the star quarterback or star point guard getting a deal with a merchandising company like Nike or Reebok and those things are allowed in in this. But there’s also the ability, for instance, the women’s softball player, to be able to put her face on the poster for the local pizzeria.” said Buckner.

Opponents of the legislation argued it could lead to a situation where students seeking money-making deals are duped. Buckner says there are rules in place to make sure that doesn’t happen.

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“We gave them the ability to get legal counsel,” Buckner said. “We gave them the ability to hire an agent, we also prohibited certain types of endorsements. They can’t endorse things like alcohol. like cannabis. like video. like sports betting, or casinos and gambling.”

Buckner says the future will be that much brighter for these athletes.

“It’ll be a new day for many college athletes, and we’re excited about that.”

While the new law does not amount to paying college players, it should be a big deal for a lot of student athletes.

“As a former student athlete, I understand the importance and the significance of a day like this,” said Northwestern University Athletic Director Derrick Gragg. “Whenever we can be a part of something this historic, it’s important for us to stand up.”

“Obviously, you know, with me being a fifth-year senior – one of the fan favorites – now I can live stream, play video games with younger kids, surprise birthdays for younger guys, you know, different things – so I’m going to take full advantage of this opportunity,” said Illini basketball guard Trent Frazier.

The law allowing payment for use of student athletes’ name, image, and likeness goes into effect this Thursday, meaning students can start accepting appropriate deals that are offered to them.

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The NCAA is voting tomorrow on a proposal that would set up rules nationwide for states that aren’t enacting new laws.