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Compensating College Athletes: Name, Image and Likeness

Compensating College Athletes: Name, Image and Likeness

Host Renee Shaw talks with her guests about compensating college athletes for using their name, image and likeness. Guests include: Jim Host, collegiate sports marketing expert; Rachel Baker, executive associate athletics director, University of Kentucky athletics; State Rep. Adam Bowling (R-Middlesboro); State Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville); and others.
S28 E36 Length 56:33 Premiere: 11.22.21

Athletic Directors and Legislators Discuss a Vast New Marketplace for Student-Athletes

When Jack “Goose” Givens helped lead the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team to a 30-win season and the 1978 NCAA tournament title, all he and his teammates could count on for their efforts was their athletic scholarships and modest stipends of $15 a month from the school.

“They called it laundry money,” Givens recalls. “That is what they expected us to live on.”

For years, student-athletes have criticized the collegiate athletic system that allowed the NCAA, universities, broadcast networks, and others to enjoy millions of dollars in profits off of their labors. The system had to operate that way, argued the NCAA, because compensating players would mean they would no longer be amateurs, and that could destroy the college game.

But recent court decisions have broken the NCAA’s grip on how collegiate student-athletes are compensated. Players who once couldn’t even control the use of their own name, image or likeness now have the opportunity to benefit from their personal brands. That change, which has unfolded since July 1 through a series of state-level laws and executive orders, is creating what some are calling a “Wild West” in college sports as businesses and boosters rush to sign endorsement deals big and small with college athletes.

Givens says he’s “100 percent” for the change.

“I think it’s going to be awesome opportunities for players,” he says. “It’s needed, I think it’s well deserved, and way past time.”

Student-Athletes Already Netting Hundreds of Deals

College athletes in Kentucky are currently operating under broad name, image, and likeness (also called NIL) rules put in place through an executive order issued by Gov. Andy Beshear in late June. His order allows student-athletes to sign endorsement or sponsorship deals and to use agents to assist with their NIL contracts. The athlete can receive money or free products as compensation for their endorsement or participation at current market rates.

The players’ schools can enact reasonable limits on how much time their student-athletes can devote to NIL work and what products or services they endorse. For example, they are prohibited from promoting alcohol or tobacco products, weapons, gambling, or sexually-oriented activities. Beshear’s order also directs schools to give their student-athletes training on financial literacy as well as personal brand, time, and money management.

Administrators quickly established policies at UK and the University of Louisville to give their athletes further guidance.

Rachel Baker, executive associate athletics director at UK, says their players have signed more than 500 NIL deals. They range from star football and basketball players (men and women) down to athletes in non-revenue generating sports, including track and field hurdler Masai Russell and air rifle shooter Mary Tucker, who won a silver medal at this year’s Olympics.

“I haven’t disapproved one deal,” says Baker. “What we are looking for is whether or not what they are doing actually complies with the executive order… What is prohibited, though, is them actually getting something and not having to do anything for that.”

It’s not just individual athletes who can benefit from NIL deals. U of L Associate Athletic Director Matthew Banker says it can be an entire team, like the school’s number-one ranked women’s volleyball squad, or a specific position group, like Louisville football’s offensive line.

“For many, their visibility is going to be at its highest when they’re in college,” says Banker. “Many aren’t going to go professional… so to maximize that while they’re in college is something that we can do in a cohesive fashion.”

Student-athletes must disclose their NIL deals to their schools or risk a loss of eligibility. Both U of L and UK have given their players smartphone apps they can use to report their proposed deals by answering a few basic questions. Banker says that kind of convenience is important because deals can come through social media so quickly.

As for helping student-athletes with financial and legal issues, Baker and Banker say that’s nothing new for UK or U of L.

“We’re stewards to young people 18-to-21, 22-year-olds who are new to this business environment,” says Banker. “They’re dealing with contracts, they’re dealing with negotiations, trying to understand their own value, their own rights.”

“We’ve been in the business for many years of helping student-athletes create and build their own personal brand,” says Baker. “Now they’re at an opportunity where they can actually take advantage of that and capitalize on it.”

Potential State Legislation to Regulate NIL Deals

Still, that “Wild West” concern still looms large, given how quickly NIL opportunities emerged, the amount of money that could be at play, and the fact that student-athletes and their families likely have little experience navigating these kinds of deals. There are also no national standards yet.

Baker says the NCAA, the nonprofit organization that governs collegiate athletics and student-athletes, has directed member schools to follow any NIL laws set by their home states. The association also mandates that NIL deals cannot create a pay-for-play scenario or be used as inducement to recruit prospects to a school.

Congress could also intervene to enact national policies on NIL, but that hasn’t happened either. Without some kind of consistent national standards, some fear the current patchwork of state or even local laws could give some schools advantages over others.

“I actually think the NCAA is the entity that is best suited to do this,” says state Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville). “I have no confidence that they will do it even though they should.”

Seeing where NIL was heading in the courts, McGarvey says he’s worked for several years with fellow Senators Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) and Whitney Westerfield (R-Crofton) to develop potential NIL legislation for the General Assembly. He says 28 states already have NIL legislation in place while a couple of others, including Kentucky, have executive orders on the issue. McGarvey says he wants Kentucky’s law to set a standard for the rest of the nation for follow. He also says schools should be able to put reasonable restrictions on the deals and that there must be enforcement measures if policies aren’t followed.

“We don’t want to over-regulate this as a part-time legislature,” says McGarvey. “But at the same time, we want to make sure that the kids are protected.”

Representatives from U of L and UK appeared at an Interim Joint Committee on Education earlier this month to offer their outline for potential legislation. The schools want to ensure student-athletes can make money from NIL deals, while the institutions are allowed to put reasonable limits on NIL, protect their own brands and intellectual property, and get immunity from any potential lawsuits arising from an NIL deal gone bad.

“It’s a good framework,” says state Rep. Adam Bowling (R-Middlesboro). “We’re just going to have to tighten up the language around what’s reasonable, and then also on the immunity. We need to give the university the protections they need.”

Collegiate sports marketing expert Jim Host says state legislative action on NIL could be unnecessary. He says the individual schools are already doing a good job managing the deals now. Plus, he expects the NCAA to promulgate national policies on NIL in the organization’s new constitution. That could put schools in the position of having to follow state laws and NCAA rules that could be at odds with each other.

“I really applaud the legislature for taking this on and doing the work they’re doing on it,” says Host. “I think to establish the guideline for all universities in the state is the absolute right thing to do, and then see how that matches up with what the NCAA does, if they do anything.”

Bowling says he understands the NCAA could change the NIL playing field. But until that happens, he contends it’s important for the state to put rules in place now to protect schools and student-athletes.

“For the last 50 years we’ve been at the whim of the NCAA,” says Bowling. “If we don’t pass legislation, then we’re still at the whim of the NCAA.”

Gov. Beshear’s executive order applies to the major state universities as well as the regional universities and smaller schools, and any future legislation would likely do the same. Travis Powell, vice president and general counsel for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, says NIL deals provide more opportunities for students to achieve their dreams.

“When you think about some of the low-income and underrepresented minority students that are participating in athletics, it’s a huge way for them to be more successful on our campuses,” says Powell, who played on two NCAA Division II basketball championship teams at Kentucky Wesleyan. “This is just going to enhance that even more.”

While NIL deals offer a lot of promise for players, there are many unknowns. For example, how would deals apply to high school athletes? And could the deals create rifts among team members when some players get more or better offers than others?

Jack Givens says players at the college level understand the nature of team sports and that better athletes generally get more attention, whether that’s in playing time, in the limelight, or now with NIL deals.

“That’s supply and demand, that’s the market,” says Givens. “Some players are going to make more than others, but I think every guy in practice knows who the superstars are.”

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Season 28 Episodes

Compensating College Athletes: Name, Image and Likeness

S28 E36 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.22.21

Trends in State and National Politics

S28 E35 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 11.15.21

Abortion Rights and Restrictions

S28 E34 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.8.21

Kentucky's Social Services System

S28 E33 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11.1.21

School Choice in the Commonwealth

S28 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.25.21

Historical Horse Racing: A Growing Pastime in Kentucky

S28 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.11.21

New Developments and the Unknowns of COVID-19

S28 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10.4.21

COVID and the Classroom

S28 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 9.27.21

Remembering 9/11, 20 Years Later

S28 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 9.13.21

Kentucky's Response to COVID-19

S28 E27 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 8.30.21

Discussing the Surge of COVID-19 Cases in Kentucky

S28 E26 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 8.23.21

Fancy Farm Preview and State Politics

S28 E25 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 8.2.21

Back-To-School Issues in Kentucky

S28 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 7.26.21

Childcare Challenges

S28 E23 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 7.19.21

The Urban-Rural Divide in Kentucky

S28 E22 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 7.12.21

Work Shifts: Kentucky's Labor Shortage and Hiring Challenges

S28 E21 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.28.21

Public Infrastructure: What Kentucky Needs

S28 E19 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 6.21.21

Debating Critical Race Theory

S28 E18 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 6.14.21

Kentucky's Rebound From COVID-19

S28 E17 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 6.7.21

Jobs and the Economy

S28 E16 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 5.17.21

The Future of Policing in America

S28 E15 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 5.10.21

President Biden's First 100 Days

S28 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 5.3.21

Mass Shootings and Gun Laws

S28 E13 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 4.26.21

Voting Rights and Election Laws

S28 E12 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 4.20.21

The 2021 General Assembly: Debating Major Legislation

S28 E11 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 4.12.21

Wrapping Up the 2021 General Assembly

S28 E10 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 3.29.21

School Choice in Kentucky

S28 E9 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 3.22.21

No-Knock Warrants

S28 E8 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 3.15.21

Proposed Legislation to Modify Kentucky Teachers' Pensions

S28 E6 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 2.22.21

Debating Historical Horse Racing Legislation

S28 E5 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 2.8.21

New Lawmakers in the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly

S28 E4 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 2.1.21

A Nation Divided

S28 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.18.21

Recapping the Start of the 2021 General Assembly

S28 E2 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 1.11.21

Previewing the 2021 General Assembly

S28 E1 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 1.4.21

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Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, is a public affairs discussion program broadcasted live on Monday nights at 8/7c on KET and KET.org/live.

Viewers with questions and comments may send e-mail to kytonight@ket.org or use the message form on this page. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 1-800-494-7605.

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Kentucky Tonightwas awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

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