States to Allow College Athletes to Benefit from Their Name, Image and Likeness
WASHINGTON – A seismic change will shake up college sports next month, when a handful of new state laws come into force, allowing student-athletes to make money with their personal images.
It was against the rules governing college sports for student-athletes to profit from their name or image – a common practice in professional sports.
But a flurry of states have moved forward with laws granting college athletes the rights to their own “name, image and likeness,” arguing that it’s a matter of fairness for student-athletes. Statutes in five states, including Georgia and Florida, will come into force on July 1.
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Congress could step in, but lawmakers couldn’t agree on a federal law that would resolve the upcoming patchwork of different state laws. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transport is expected to tackle the issue again during a hearing Wednesday morning.
State laws regulating name, image and likeness rights are part of a national wave of legislation. A count by ESPN shows that at least 11 other states – including Colorado, Tennessee, Montana, Michigan, Maryland and Arizona – have laws set to come into effect in the months and years to come. Colorado law comes into effect on January 1, 2023.
Other bills are also passed by the legislative assemblies of the country, including in Ohio. So far, all but nine states have introduced a similar form of legislation, according to USA Today.
This state’s policymaking sets up a chaotic legal playing field for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which governs college sports and has long resisted efforts to pay student athletes, even as its income and that of students. university sports departments have skyrocketed.
The NCAA has said it is “committed to modernizing” its name, image and likeness rules. But the sport’s governing body has suspended any official changes due to an additional complication – the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to rule before the end of this month in a separate but related case involving NCAA limits in eligibility and compensation.
The SCOTUS decision looms
The result of this case, NCAA v. Alston, is likely to determine the ability of the NCAA to meet new NIL laws. The case centers on whether the NCAA rules capping the amount of financial aid athletes receive from colleges violate federal antitrust laws.
The NCAA has argued that the current rules, which allow schools to offer athletes only a scholarship and an additional tuition allowance, comply with federal law.
But a lower federal court overturned those limitations, saying the NCAA could restrict non-education benefits, such as cash payments, but not potentially expensive education-related benefits, like free laptops or paid postgraduate internships.
It’s unclear how narrow or broad the Supreme Court ruling will be in the current case, but depending on how that opinion is framed, it could make it “very difficult” for the NCAA to adopt policies on name, image and likeness rights, said Steve Ross, a law professor at Pennsylvania State University and executive director of the school’s Center for the Study of Sports in Society.
If the highest court rules against the NCAA in the Alston case, one option is that it could suggest the issue be resolved through individual athletic conferences, Ross said.
A favorable ruling for the NCAA could provide reassurance that it can legally attempt to set guidelines for name, image and likeness rights, he added. Or the college athletic organization could initiate a legal challenge to these state laws.
“I hope that after the Alston decision Congress will look into the matter,” said Ross, who has partnered with other sports law professors. develop a proposal to regulate NIL rights.
Little uniformity between states
In the meantime, the bills passed by state legislatures so far offer little consistency in how the matter will be handled from state to state.
There are some similarities. Most states would allow student-athletes to hire professional representatives to negotiate contracts with outside companies.
But there are also differences.
The new law in Georgia allows schools to require athletes to pool up to 75% of any name, image and likeness income they earn into an escrow account, which would then be shared with other athletes. A student’s share of those dollars could only be withdrawn after graduation or a year after leaving school.
Georgian law also requires college athletes to take financial literacy classes to better prepare them to spend that money.
The measure approved in Maryland is not expected to go into effect until July 2023, leaving time for any policy changes that may come from the NCAA and the federal government.
This Maryland law also creates new health and safety requirements in Maryland athletic programs to prevent and treat serious injuries, a provision brought on by the death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair, who died of heat stroke complications after training in 2018.
Even with distinctions between states, the new laws all offer the prospect of at least modest and potentially significant new income for players, especially those in the most watched and expensive sports like soccer and basketball.
A study from the Temple University School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management in Pennsylvania also suggests that athletes in non-revenue-generating sports can also use their social media platforms to “attract supportive deals from sponsors with the ability to develop an audience and act as influencers.”
This study noted that female student athletes tend to post more content than their male counterparts, and median female and male female athletes have a comparable number of followers, suggesting a bit more level playing field for potential endorsements. social media according to their reach.
Multiple ideas at Congress
A federal law would help standardize the nuances between these state laws, but members of Congress were unable to reach agreement on at least eight proposals, including a bipartisan proposal from Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican and former Ohio State football player, and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri.
These proposals have a varied scope. A far-reaching measure by Democratic Sens. Cory Booker from New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut include revenue sharing, a medical trust fund, and greater scholarship protection.
âI know firsthand that college sport can open doors of opportunity that most young people never knew existed – but the sad reality is that the NCAA also exploits college athletes for financial gain and exploits in ways disproportionately black athletes who are overrepresented in income. generate sport, âBooker said.
“Under its current operations, the NCAA prevents college athletes from earning significant compensation and fails to keep the athletes in its charge healthy and safe, and that has to change.”
A number of questions remain unanswered across these ideas from members of Congress, including whether a federal law would fully prevail over state laws on the matter.
“As states continue to pass laws determining how varsity athletes can be compensated for their name, image and likeness, it is clear that a patchwork of 50 state laws would be devastating for varsity sports,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said last year when he introduced his college athletics fairness act.
The Senate hearing scheduled for Wednesday could move the debate forward. Staff members of Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Who chairs this panel and who has been a key player in discussions of NIL legislation, did not return messages from the states press room for this report.
Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), who drafted one of the NIL rights proposals, said USA Today last month that it would be “difficult … if not impossible” to pass a federal law on the matter before July 1.
But Moran also told the newspaper that state laws made NIL rights for college athletes “a much bigger problem” than it had been a few months earlier.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Alston case before adjourning at the end of June.
Depending on the timing and scope of that decision, the next steps for the NCAA come on June 23, when one of the organization’s regulatory groups is due to meet.
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