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Proposed Bill 'Jordan McNair Act' Would Create Commission Focused On 'Fair Treatment' Of College Athletes In Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- In May of 2018, 19-year-old Terrapins offensive lineman Jordan McNair suffered a heatstroke during a team workout.

He would not survive.

This year, the Maryland General Assembly is looking at the health and well-being of college players, and whether there should be a special council on fair treatment for student athletes.

Ellis McKennie was a teammate of McNair's.

"The grieving process is difficult," he told WJZ. "Myself, as well as a number of his loved ones and family, have tried to take that pain and turn that pain into purpose."

Last year, they created the Jordan McNair Foundation.

In a Senate Committee on Wednesday, they presented the Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act; it creates a council to include a study on allowing college athletes to benefit from use of their own images and likeness.

Senator Justin Ready (R-Carroll County) is a bill sponsor.

"The bill is trying to protect the rights of student athletes," Ready said. "To me, as a free market conservative, I don't understand why we don't allow our student athletes to profit off of name and likeness. Olympic athletes can maintain their amateur status and endorsements. Most college students, even if they're on an academic scholarship or other scholarship, can have a part-time job. But our student athletes, its really like a full-time job for them."

Supporters believe the bill (sb0518) is a way around the thorny issue of paying student athletes outright.

Mental health and sports-related injuries are also included under the umbrella of the council.

The House will hear testimony on the bill next week.

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