By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — California passed a first-in-the-nation law that would allow college athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsements. Now, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he’s also open to the idea.

Walz was talking about the Fair Pay to Play Act while visiting the largest college fair in the country. High school students filled the Minneapolis Convention Center and were greeted by dozens of colleges and universities from across the country, a young person’s opportunity to prepare for the future.

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“I think it speaks volumes to our high school kids who are getting college ready and it shows our commitment to helping them pursue their dreams. They are here today, many of them, with their parents, thinking about what’s next,” Walz said.

Also in the crowd, student athletes thinking about their future in athletics, and if, by chance, Minnesota will decide to let college athletes hire agents and make money off endorsements.

“I think that they should. They are going to that level, they probably are going to be going to the professional league of whatever sport they play, so they deserve some compensation,” high school baseball player Sten Hoine said.

California is the first state in the nation to let student athletes share in the wealth they create for their schools.

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“They are bringing in a lot of money for the university which means it would be fair that they get some of the money that they bring in,” student athlete Joey Busko said.

Walz says he is not saying Minnesota should go the way California did, but he believes there should be a discussion.

“I do think you need to say something basically in the world where a lot of college athletics, especially at the Division 1 level, are basically feeder programs for professional sports,” Walz said.

Walz, a former high school football coach, says he has always been fairly uncomfortable with NCAA rules that keep athletes from earning endorsements.

“I just think that there are folks thinking about this, certainly their security and their health we’re concerned about as we see new technology come out, but also taking a look at this there might be for that small percentage that is going to go play at those large schools Division 1 schools it’s worth pursuing thinking about how that compensation looks,” said Gov. Walz.

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The Fair Pay to Play Act won’t go into effect in California until 2023. and it is expected to face some legal battles. California colleges, the Pac-12 Conference, the Mountain West Conference and the NCAA all have standing to challenge the act.

Reg Chapman