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JACKSON • Mississippi college athletes could sign agents and ink endorsement deals under a pair of bills advancing through the Legislature.

Separate versions of the so-called “name, image and likeness” measures – House Bill 1030 and Senate Bill 2313 – cleared their respective chambers this week. The legislation received bipartisan backing.

If approved, the legislation would let a college athlete sign endorsement deals, hire an agent and accept gifts, actions that would presently could lead to sanctions. The bills’ advancement in Mississippi follows similar actions in several other states, including Florida and California.

The NCAA and Congress have yet to approve “name, image and likeness” proposals, so states have opted to act on their own. Rep. Scott Bounds, R-Philadelphia, said waiting to approve a similar measure could put Mississippi at a recruiting disadvantage. “Every day that this is not addressed, we are losing ground to other institutions around us,” Bounds said.

An amendment to the House bill would add the caveat that “no male student-athlete may earn compensation or contract for the use, image or likeness of the student-athlete as a female athlete or on an athletic team or sport designated for females.”The amendment, adopted on a voice vote, outlines a procedure for a physician’s statement in situations where “a student-athlete’s sex is disputed.”

This provision will likely draw criticism and could potentially complicate consideration of the two measures.

Northeast Mississippi lawmakers sponsored both bills under consideration. Sen. Rita Potts Parks, R-Corinth, who chairs the Senate Universities and Colleges committee, introduced SB 2313. Rep. Mac Huddleston, R-Pontotoc, who chairs the House Universities and Colleges committee, introduced HB 1030.

Several similar bills have been introduced in Congress in recent months, and the NCAA is considering rule changes to “name, image and likeness” regulations which could win final approval this summer, according to CBS Sports.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker told the Daily Journal last year he had hoped to pursue a federal “name, image and likeness” bill during last year’s lame-duck session of Congress, but such legislation never moved forward.

Wicker chaired the Senate Commerce Committee at the time, with Republicans in control of the Senate.

“Various states have enacted legislation allowing college athletes to make money on their name. This would be a vast change,” Wicker said in part last year. “We certainly need a nationwide standard on that.”

Caleb Bedillion contributed to this report.

Luke Ramseth is a Jackson-based reporter covering the 2021 session of the Mississippi Legislature for the Daily Journal. Email him at lramseth@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @lramseth.

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