(WBTV) - North Carolina Senator Richard Burr suggested taxing the scholarships of college athletes who choose to make money off their likeness while in school.
The suggestion came on Twitter, in response to the Associated Press report that the NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to clear the way for college athletes to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.”
The vote was the first step toward allowing athletes to make money from their fame.
Duke University Vice President & Director of Athletics Kevin White responded to the news Tuesday.
“Today’s news demonstrates progress towards impactful reform. To be sure, we look forward to contributing to the discussion on the Division I level,” White said.
In response to the news, Sen. Burr tweeted that if students are going to be able to make money from their likeness while in school, then their scholarships should be treated as income.
“If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income. I’ll be introducing legislation that subjects scholarships given to athletes who choose to “cash in” to income taxes,” Sen. Burr’s tweet read.
Sen. Burr said that he would be introducing legislation, but did not elaborate on when.
The NCAA and its member schools are working to figure out how to allow athletes to profit while still maintaining rules regarding amateurism. The Board of Governors, meeting at Emory University in Atlanta, directed each of the NCAA’s three divisions to create the necessary new rules immediately and have them in place no later than January 2021.
Later Tuesday, people on social media reacted to Burr’s suggestion, including Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC-06). Walker responded to Burr’s tweet on Twitter.
If scholarships are income, that makes them employees, not student-athletes. This isn’t about income. It’s about basic rights that every other American has to their own name," Walker tweeted.
Sports writer and television personality Jemele Hill also chimed in on Twitter.
“If scholarships are treated like income, then that would make the athletes, employees. The NCAA screams at every opportunity that college athletes are not employees because they know if they are classified as employees they would have to start paying them,” Hill tweeted.
Carolina Panthers legend Julius Peppers also chimed in on the subject in a reply to Sen. Burr’s tweet on Thursday.
Peppers tweeted that he would love to sit down with Senator Burr and try to get an understanding of why the Senator has presented the idea of taxing athletic scholarships.
Peppers pointed to Sen. Burr’s background in college football. Sen. Burr played defensive back for Wake Forest football in the 1970s.
“I would love to sit down and have a conversation with you to try to understand why you feel this way. I also think you could benefit from hearing a former college athlete’s perspective on why it’s important and long overdue for these kids to be able to ‘cash in,’” Peppers tweeted.
Sen. Burr responded, saying that he was open to a sit-down with the former Panthers defensive star.