COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The University of South Carolina's football schedule this season promises competitive matchups at home and on the road.
With these games and any potential wins comes more ticket purchases, food and drink orders, and merchandise sales. According to Forbes, the University of South Carolina's football program generated $95 million dollars in revenue between 2015-2017. Democratic lawmakers Rep. Justin Bamberg and Sen. Marlon Kimpson believe the students on the field and the court deserve a cut.
"When the average ticket price of a professional championship is 3,000 per seat, it's time to reexamine this so-called amateur sports," said Kimpson.
The two lawmakers are working on a bill that closely resembles the one that was recently passed by California lawmakers.
In particular, Kimpson said his bill would compensate players for their hourly work, allow them to make money from using their likeness to sell merchandise, and establish a fund to assist players who suffer from sports-related injuries later in life.
Former South Carolina wide receiver Tim "Pops" Frisby believes this would've been a game-changer.
"It would have been an absolute windfall for me at the time," Frisby said.
He was all over the late-night and morning show circuit when the story got out that he was a 40-year-old wide receiver at UofSC and a veteran. He said he didn't need the money as much as some, but it would've helped him provide more for his wife and kids. However, while he knows it would have benefited him, other former UofSC football players feel it would hurt the team as a whole.
"Those type of guys who have their jerseys inside the campus bookstores, or you go to local Walmarts... yes, it does well for those guys, but what about the rest of the team that practice hard that aren't going to have their jerseys? It makes it more of a one-person type deal because you only got three or four highlighted players who are going to make the money," said former Gamecocks quarterback Syvelle Newton.
South Carolina Athletics did not respond to request for comment on this proposed bill, but in the past, athletic director Ray Tanner has said in the past the idea gives him "angst."
Although they are rivals, Clemson coaches echoed this sentiment. Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney, who is the highest-paid coach in the country, previously told the Charleston Post and Courier "...as far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that's where you lose me. I’ll go do something else because there's enough entitlement in this world as it is.”
According to a new poll from College Pulse, varsity athletes may disagree with their coaches. 83 percent of them said even athletes on full rides should make money on their likeness.
Kimpson and Bamberg will get their chance to debate these pros and cons the second Tuesday of January when the Statehouse is back in session.