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Colorado Lawmakers Could Soon Consider Legislation To Let College Athletes Get Paid

DENVER (CBS4) - The NCAA is warning states there will be severe consequences for those that enact laws allowing college athletes to be paid. California is the first state to pass such a bill through its legislature. Its bill allows student athletes to hire agents, accept endorsements and get paid for things like their autograph. Colorado will consider a bill this next legislative session that would go even further and allow direct payments.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - APRIL 08: The Virginia Cavaliers celebrate their teams 85-77 win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders to win the the 2019 NCAA men's Final Four National Championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium on April 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

State Sen.s Owen Hill and Jeff Bridges introduced the bill too late last session, but they plan to bring it back -- and one Colorado star athlete is supporting it.

"I knew that the day the NCAA told me that I couldn't play football if I wanted to continue as a pro skier that it wasn't going to be like that for long," Jeremy Bloom said.

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Jeremy Bloom (CBS)

Fifteen years ago this month, he lost his fight with the NCAA and was forced to give up his football career at CU to accept Olympic skiing endorsements.

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Jeremy Bloom (CBS)

"It's student athletes' ability to get paid ... and there's no other job on the planet or skill on the planet where we work for free."

David Hansburg was director of football operations at the University of Colorado-Boulder when Bloom was there. Now, he's athletic director at Colorado School of Mines.

David Hansburg
(credit: CBS)

"I appreciate Jeremy's dreams and I knew how hard he had worked to get where he got," Hansburg said.

He says student athletes should be allowed to accept compensation but the NCAA, not state legislatures, should oversee it to ensure a level playing field.

"Obviously the California state legislature does not believe the NCAA is moving quick enough. I'm not sure they fully thought through the impacts -- the potential negative impacts -- to student athletes and other NCAA institutions around the country that law could create," Hansburg said.

The Colorado Mines Orediggers play California schools, along with the Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams.

The NCAA has threatened to bar California schools from NCAA championships, saying they will have an unfair recruiting advantage. Bloom says that already exists in college athletics.

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"The NCAA has always used threats to diffuse progress. ... There will be a tipping point. It's going to take time. There's going to be friction. There's going to be false starts. But, over the next 5 to 10 years, we're going to see amazing changes in amateur athletics that will benefit the student athletes," Bloom said.

If California's governor signs the bill into law, it won't take effect for three years.

CU Athletic Director Rick George sits on an NCAA committee that has been studying the issue of compensating athletes. It will release a report next month.

In addition to Colorado, Washington state and the U.S. Congress are also considering legislation.

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