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New Mexico lawmaker wants to let college athletes profit

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Republican state legislator and former university football lineman wants New Mexico to allow its college athletes to profit financially from their fame as the NCAA looks into possibly removing a longstanding prohibition on student earnings from sports.

State Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque says he’s drafting legislation with the help of a Democratic Senate colleague that would allow students to profit indirectly from their participation in college sports.

Moores played as a lineman for University of New Mexico football from 1988 through 1991.

College sports generate billions of dollars in revenue, including $1 billion annually for the NCAA. But none of that money is allowed to go to college athletes.

California enacted a law last year that prevents athletes from losing scholarships or being thrown off teams because of endorsement deals. Lawmakers in at least six other states are taking up similar efforts.

“The NCAA has acknowledged that they need to address this issue but I want to keep putting on the pressure … with other legislators from across the country,” Moores said.

The NCAA previously argued that allowing the practice “would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics” and would give California schools an unfair recruiting advantage.

Separately, Moores has filed legislation seeking $500,000 to shore up mental health services for student athletes. The budget request responds to student suicides in recent years, including the death of University of New Mexico football player Nahje Flowers in November.

The Legislature convened Tuesday for a 30-day session. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is backing legislation to provide free in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

The University of New Mexico recently disbanded teams for skiing, soccer and women’s beach volleyball in the wake of financial difficulties in its athletics program and a scandal linked to fundraising tactics.

Former UNM athletic director Paul Krebs has pleaded not guilty to embezzlement charges linked to accusations that he used public money for a lavish golf tip to court donors. A trial is scheduled for later this year.

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