Senator threatens bill to tax college athletes' scholarships if they take endorsement money

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) wants to make scholarships a form of taxable income for college athletes who take endorsement money when and if they're allowed to make endorsement income by the NCAA. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) wants to make scholarships a form of taxable income for college athletes who take endorsement money when and if they're allowed to make endorsement income by the NCAA. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

College athletes are still a long way away from being able to make endorsement and sponsorship income yet one United States senator is already threatening repercussions for athletes who take money from third parties.

In the wake of the NCAA’s move to consider allowing athletes to get compensated on the basis of their name and likeness, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (R) tweeted that he would introduce a bill that would make scholarships a form of taxable income for any athlete who takes sponsorship money.

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Burr didn’t offer any specifics in his tweet. And it sure seems incongruous that Burr, a man who voted for the 2017 tax cuts that lowered taxes for many high-income earners, would be unhappy with players making money.

Burr’s hypothetical bill also seems ridiculously punitive for athletes at certain schools. After all, the value of a scholarship varies from school to school based on tuition rates. Annual tuition at Duke is over $50,000 a year, meaning a four-year scholarship would be worth over $200,000. In-state tuition at North Carolina is less than $10,000 a year and out-of-state tuition is approximately $20,000 cheaper per year than Duke. Would North Carolina athletes be taxed at a lower rate than Duke athletes because their scholarships are supposedly less valuable? It would make little to no sense if they were.

What does make sense, however, is the NCAA finally moving towards paying athletes. Though it’s important to note that the NCAA didn’t actually change any rules on Tuesday. Instead, it said that its board of governors had simply directed the NCAA to consider updates to its current image and likeness rules and implement any changes “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model” by January 2021.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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