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Panel kills bill allowing Virginia college athletes cash from endorsements

A House bill that was shelved this week would have made Virginia the second state to allow its college athletes to make money off of their names, images and likenesses.

Capital News Service



By Will Gonzalez

A House bill that was shelved this week would have made Virginia the second state to allow its college athletes to make money off of their names, images, and likenesses.

Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, introduced House Bill 300, which would have allowed student-athletes to earn money through endorsement contracts and obtain representation from an agent or attorney. The bill also said that the aforementioned actions can’t result in the loss of eligibility or scholarships.

This comes after California passed a similar law — the Fair Pay to Play Act — which the NCAA initially opposed, citing that the potential to make money would give California schools an unfair advantage in recruiting.

The NCAA, the governing body for intercollegiate athletics in the U.S., has historically upheld that college athletes are amateurs and “students first, athletes second,” thus ensuring an education remains the sole reason for attending a college or university. The NCAA’s current rules prohibit players from earning money from sponsorship deals. However, the organization recently voted to direct schools to consider rule changes regarding student-athlete endorsements.

Tim Nevius, a New York-based attorney representing college athletes, says the NCAA’s new position on college athletes earning compensation is a result of outside pressure and litigation.

“The NCAA often like to take credit for rule changes when they do come about,” Nevius said, “but they don’t do anything voluntarily and this is another example of that.”

New York, Florida and Illinois are among the states which have introduced bills that allow student-athletes to profit off their likenesses. The New York bill adds other provisions that would benefit students. Schools would need to share 15% of their revenue from athletics with their student-athletes and set up a fund for players who suffer serious injuries.

Nevius believes the benefits for players who get hurt are more important than sharing revenues and that other states should follow suit.

“Right now NCAA athletes are not sufficiently protected when it comes to their health and safety rights,” Nevius said. “Taking care of the health and safety of our college athletes should be the priority for any lawmaker or any new rules that come about.”

Helen Drew, a sports law professor at the University at Buffalo, said as more states draft bills with their own conditions as to how college athletes can benefit from their talents, it will lead to a logistical nightmare for the NCAA.

“If the NCAA is smart, they’re going to lobby for federal legislation that sets a standard across the country, gets rid of all this potential litigation and addresses the issue,” Drew said. “The problem is they’ve been dragging their feet.”

This is not the first time the legitimacy of the NCAA’s amateurism rules have come into question. UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA in 2014 after he saw himself in a college basketball video game, and it was ruled that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by providing the likenesses of players without compensation.

That same year, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Shabazz Napier — a UConn Husky at the time — told reporters that he sometimes went to bed hungry because he wasn’t given enough to eat and couldn’t afford more. The NCAA would eventually relax their rules for how much food schools were allowed to give their athletes, which included allowing programs to provide cream cheese and peanut butter for bagels and unlimited snacks.

Set featured imageAccording to Nevius, one of the overlooked provisions in the Virginia bill is crucial — the ability for student-athletes to obtain professional and legal representation — not only for monetary purposes but also to defend themselves against the schools they attend.

“Representation is critical, not just with respect to landing endorsement deals, but also with respect to enforcing any of the provisions under this rule that schools may take liberties with,” Nevius said. “College athletes have no voice and no independent representation outside of the universities, and it results in a lot of overreach by coaches.”

If it becomes common for college athletes to be allowed to make money while in school, Mario Sequeira Quesada, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University and goalkeeper for their soccer team, believes that schools should take measures to make athletes more equipped to handle that money.

“In the end, what you want to do in college is become a more complete person,” Sequeira Quesada said. “A better athlete, but at the same time more prepared for the real world.”

The House Subcommittee on Higher Education voted to table the bill Tuesday, meaning it won’t be heard in either chamber this session.

Originally established in 1906 to reform college football after numerous deaths and serious injuries, the NCAA now incorporates 1,098 member schools and generates roughly $1 billion in revenues annually.



The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Bills advance to expand in-state tuition regardless of citizenship status

The state Senate and the House have advanced bills to make students living in the U.S. without documentation eligible for in-state tuition.

Capital News Service



The state Senate and the House have advanced bills to make students living in the U.S. without documentation eligible for in-state tuition.

SB 935, introduced by Democratic Sens. Jennifer Boysko and Ghazala Hashmi, would require a student to provide proof of filed taxes to be eligible for in-state tuition. A student also must have attended high school in Virginia for at least two years, been homeschooled in the state or have passed a high school equivalency exam prior to enrolling in a college. The bill reported out of the House appropriations committee Wednesday and heads to the floor for a vote.

Submitting income tax returns would be a challenge for students straight out of high school who have not worked or filed taxes before, according to Jorge Figueredo, executive director of Edu-Futuro, a nonprofit that seeks to empower immigrant youth and their families.

HB 1547, introduced by Del. Alfonso Lopez, applies the same provisions as SB 935, except the requirement to file proof of filed taxes. The bill is currently in the Senate Health and Education committee.

Immigrant rights advocates have openly supported these two bills. Figueredo said he is “thrilled” to see the bill advance.

“This is something that makes a lot of sense. It’s something where we don’t want to have a group of people to get to a point that they cannot reach their highest potential,” Figueredo said.

Attorney General Mark Herring announced in 2014 that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students would be eligible for in-state tuition. He said Maryland saw an increase in graduation rates after allowing students without documentation to access in-state tuition rates. Maryland officials believe this led less students to drop out of high school because they saw realistic options for continuing education, according to Herring.

There is uncertainty about the future of the DACA program. A study by the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis stated that uncertainty creates a risk for students enrolled in Virginia colleges and universities, who fear they could lose DACA status and access to in-state tuition rates. The institute, which studies issues affecting low-to-moderate income residents, recommended that lawmakers could mitigate the potential impact of that loss by expanding in-state tuition access to Virginia residents regardless of immigration status. The institute said that by doing so the state would also provide more affordable access to colleges for residents whose immigration status does not otherwise fall into the categories currently required for in-state tuition.

Figueredo said that allowing these students to apply for in-state tuition would create more opportunities for undocumented students to become professionals, something that would benefit all of Virginia.

High school graduates in Virginia earn about $35,000 on average compared to people with a bachelor’s degree who earn about $65,000 a year, according to The Commonwealth Institute.

“A person that has a higher level of education in comparison to a person that has only a high school diploma, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars that are not captured in the form of taxes, so that’s a direct benefit right there,” Figueredo said.

Katherine Amaya is a freshman at Northern Virginia Community College. Her family emigrated from El Salvador when she was 8 years old. Amaya said she pays out-of-state tuition rates as an undocumented student, about $6,000 per semester, compared to classmates who pay about $2,000 for in-state tuition per semester.

Amaya said she was on the honor roll throughout high school and her first semester in college. She said she was able to apply for scholarships for undocumented students but it was a competitive process. She was awarded a few scholarships and said she was able to use that money for her first semester of college but is afraid she won’t get as much help in the future.

Amaya said she had many friends in high school that were also having a hard time paying for college or university because they were also undocumented and did not qualify for in-state tuition.

“A lot of them, they couldn’t even afford going to community college, so they just dropped out and started working,” Amaya said. “It’s sad, you know, that they don’t have the money or the help to keep going to school.”



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Bill banning handheld cellphone use while driving clears House, Senate

The state Senate voted Tuesday in favor of a bill that would prohibit holding a personal communications device while driving a motor vehicle.

Capital News Service



By Andrew Ringle

The state Senate voted Tuesday in favor of a bill that would prohibit holding a phone while driving a motor vehicle on Virginia roadways and which implements a penalty for the traffic violation.

House Bill 874 will head to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam, who has voiced support for prohibiting the use of handheld cellphones while driving. The measure, sponsored by Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond, would go into effect at the start of 2021.

“I’m happy that HB874 passed 29-9 in the Senate,” Bourne said in an email. “HB874 will make our roadways safer for all Virginians by prohibiting drivers from holding a cell phone while driving a motor vehicle.”

The House of Delegates approved the bill Feb. 5 with a 72-24 vote after incorporating four bills with similar proposals. Violations of the measures in HB 874 would result in a fine of $125 for the first offense and $250 for subsequent offenses. If a violation occurs in a highway work zone, there would be a mandatory fee of $250.

Bourne said the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, of which he is a member, supports making Virginia roadways safer without risking “disparate application of law.”

“We were happy to work with Drive Smart Virginia to improve the legislation to ensure that the new law is applied fairly and equitably,” Bourne said.

Hands-free driving garners bicameral and bipartisan support, according to Brantley Tyndall, director of outreach for Bike Walk RVA. He said the defeat of previous bills with similar measures in past years was deflating, but that Bourne’s latest proposal reworked the language to make it successful.

“Bike Walk RVA is happy to see leadership from our area, namely chief patron Delegate Jeff Bourne, choosing to lead this issue on the House side with his bill HB 874,” Tyndall said in an email.

Tyndall called Bourne’s bill a “commonsense safety measure” and said he was glad to see support for the bill from old and new leadership in the General Assembly.

“We can all feel a part of saving dozens or hundreds of lives over the next few years, including the one out of every six traffic fatalities that is a person walking or biking,” Tyndall said.

Current law prohibits reading or typing messages on a personal communications device while driving. However, holding such a device is legal, except while driving in a work zone.

The bill would not apply to emergency vehicle drivers, such as police officers and firefighters, nor employees of the Department of Transportation while performing official duties. It would also exempt drivers who are parked legally or at a full stop.

Last fall, Richmond City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to ban using mobile devices while driving. With a signature from Northam, HB 874 would make the same policy statewide law.

Senate Bill 932 proposed adding school zones to the list of areas where holding a phone while driving is prohibited, which is more limited than HB 874’s proposal. SB 932 failed to advance from a House subcommittee on Monday.

Richmond Police Chief Will Smith said during a press conference in January that his department supports HB 874 and that anyone with children shouldn’t be surprised by the proposal.

“One of the very first things that we all talk about with our kids is, ‘make sure that you leave your phone out of your hand and don’t text, don’t call until you get to your destination,’” Smith said. “Yet we, as an adult society, tend not to obey our own advice.”



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Arts & Entertainment

The world is coming to Richmond for the Menuhin Competition – the “Olympics of Violin” – this May

The world is coming to Richmond from May 14-24, 2020 for the Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. This Competition, called the “Olympics of the Violin,” is held every two years in different cities around the world.

RVAHub Staff



The world is coming to Richmond from May 14-24, 2020 for the Menuhin Competition, the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. This Competition, called the “Olympics of the Violin,” is held every two years in different cities around the world. Richmond is set to be the host city in 2020—only the second time that the Competition has been held in the U.S.

The Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020 will showcase the exceptional talents of 44 competitors: 22 Juniors ages 15 and under, and 22 Seniors from ages 15-21. A record 321 candidates from 32 countries and five continents applied by the Oct. 31 deadline, and the 44 global competitors were announced in January. One of the competitors is from Virginia, Kayleigh Kim.

For 11 days in May, Richmond will be transformed into a celebratory festival of music with competitions, performances, master classes and concerts in several music genres throughout the region. Co-hosts are the Richmond Symphony, the City of Richmond, the University of Richmond, VCU and VPM.

The first round events at Camp Concert Hall at the University of Richmond are free to the public, but a ticket is required for admission and can be requested here. Semi-final rounds will be held at the W.E. Singleton Center at VCU, and final rounds will be held at the Dominion Energy Center downtown.

For more information about the Menuhin Competition Richmond 2020, including dates, times, venues and tickets for all of the events, visit the website.



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