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Proposed bill would allow college athletes in Georgia to accept compensation

House Bill 743 is sponsored by state representative Billy Mitchell.

MACON, Ga. — For many years, schools and universities have provided student athletes with scholarships. 

Now, a Georgia lawmaker wants to provide them with further compensation.

State Rep. Billy Mitchell (D- Stone Mountain) drafted House Bill 743 last month, proposing that college athletes be paid for the use of their name, likeness, or image.

If it passes in the upcoming legislative session, student athletes may end up with a little more money in their pockets. Former Mercer football player Will Coneway says he thinks it's a great idea.

"I think any player that’s being used to generate income for a university should be compensated for that," says Coneway. “Waking up every morning, coming to practice, having to work out, and then having to do school work on top of that is basically like having two full-time jobs.”

From 2015 to 2019, Coneway says Mercer paid for 100 percent of his tuition and housing.

“It was a total of $47,000 a year, which is a blessing for me and my family not to have to pay anything for me to go here," says Coneway. 

The proposed legislation says schools would not be allowed to prevent students athletes from receiving cash, nor would athletic conferences, associations, or other groups overseeing collegiate sports.

"There’s a lot of hard work and hours put in that a lot of people don’t see. I feel like athletes should be able to be compensated for those things. I feel like this bill will give athletes a benefit for all the work they’re putting in.”

The proposes bill also says payments would not affect an athlete's financial aid or scholarships. 

The 2020 legislative session begins Monday, January 13th.

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