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W.Va. gov noncommittal on compensation for college athletes

June 29, 2021 GMT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday that he hadn’t made up his mind on whether college athletes in the state should be able to earn money off their name, image and likeness.

Ohio became the 18th state on Monday to prevent universities or college athletic conferences from punishing athletes if they are compensated based on their sports performance. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order.

Justice, a high school basketball coach, said there are “pros and cons” on both sides of the debate.

“I’d have to look at it a lot,” the Republican governor said at a regularly scheduled news conference. “I think it would take our legislature to make a decision.”

The NCAA is lurching toward a temporary, patchwork solution in addressing name, image and likeness compensation for athletes, a hyperlocal approach to allow everyone to earn money off their fame starting July 1 without uniform national rules.

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The latest strategy to provide clarity to a dramatic change in NCAA policy came after the Supreme Court on June 21 handed down a ruling that left the association exposed to future legal attacks.

In Ohio, DeWine signed his order after schools lobbied for the change in order to remain competitive for recruiting student athletes.

Justice said Tuesday: “Today, this has gotten so commercialized that to be perfectly honest, our schools are profiting from their hard work and everything in many ways.”

On the flip side, he said, student athletes are also “profiting off the benefits of all the greatness that a full scholarship or an education” gives them.

Meanwhile, California added five more states, including West Virginia, to the list of places where state-funded travel is banned because of laws that discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community.

Justice in April signed into law a ban on transgender women and girls from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. The U.S. Department of Justice challenged the ban in statements of interest it filed in lawsuits seeking to overturn the law.

“Well, I surely to goodness don’t think it’s going to affect West Virginia’s economy,” Justice said in response to California. “And I hate that the state of California maybe just came out and did that.”