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Ohio could be about to join the list of states that allow college athletes to profit from their athletic success. While the law would be a victory for athletes at major schools, it could work against schools in smaller markets, such as Marshall University and West Virginia University. Or it could benefit them.

According to the Associated Press, a bill introduced in the Ohio Senate last week would prevent universities or college athletic conferences from punishing athletes if they are compensated for endorsements based on their sports performance. Exceptions include sponsorships for marijuana, alcohol, tobacco and casinos. Athletes would have to notify their schools 15 days before signing an endorsement contract.

Since 2019, 16 states have approved legislation allowing college athletes to make money through advertisements, sponsorship deals and other types of promotions based on their athletic success, according to the AP. Five of those bills — approved by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico — become law July 1.

The NCAA is in the process of trying to amend its rules to allow athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses. That would allow athletes to earn money for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsement and personal appearances. For some athletes, those amounts could dwarf any education-related benefits, according to the AP.

Given the amount of money that flows through college athletics’ revenue sports — specifically football and men’s basketball — the old rules restricting what students may receive from their efforts are outdated. When Division I coaches make hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars while athletes are expected to balance schoolwork and athletic work, things are out of balance.

Naturally, some athletes will give more thought to playing in markets where they can make money. The question could be one of unintended consequences — as some people call them, the unknown unknowns.

Will football or basketball prospects avoid Marshall or WVU in hopes they could earn more on the side at Ohio State or even Michigan? Speaking of which, Michigan has such a law, which could have been the reason for the one proposed in Ohio.

Should such a law come to pass in West Virginia, some athletes at Marshall and WVU should benefit. Both schools have devoted fan bases. It remains to be seen how this would affect Division II schools such as West Virginia State University.

Student-athletes at some schools make a lot of money for their programs, and they deserve a piece of the pie. Athletes at other schools deserve the opportunity to profit from their labor, also. Maybe this will help athletes, or maybe it will work against them or their schools. There’s only one way to find out, and it should be tried.

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