Might Ohio permit faculty athletes to revenue from their identify, picture and likeness?

COLUMBUS – Ohio could be the next state to allow college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness – after falling behind most of the country.

Under a new bill, college athletes could use their name, image and likeness to make money, sign contracts and hire a proxy.

There would be some restrictions: athletes would have to notify their universities 15 days in advance of contract signing and could not endorse marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, adult entertainment or casinos.

All college athletes would be eligible – not just Division I athletes at places like Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati – and some aspiring students, such as commits just before enrollment, Antani said. Universities would monitor their own athletes with no nationwide oversight.

The changes would take effect July 1, 2021 if approved by Ohio lawmakers. But there is a narrow window for lawmakers as they work to finalize a two-year state budget.

“We will do this. We will do this for the benefit of the student athletes in Ohio,” Senator Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said at a press conference on Monday. He was joined by Gene Smith, director of sports at Ohio State University, who led a working group that developed rules for schools’ implementation of name, image, and likeness.

Ohio lags behind other states in terms of name, image, and likeness legislation. To date, 16 states have passed laws allowing college students to make money from advertising, sponsorship offers, and other promotions based on their athletic success and popularity. Five of these laws – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and New Mexico – go into effect July 1.

This poses a fairness issue for the NCAA, which governs student athletics. Should Alabama’s quarterback be able to sign a Nike deal if the state of Ohio can’t?

A patchwork of laws

To make matters worse, every state has different rules on how students can make money with their own fame, whether universities can refuse contracts, and how athletes hire agents.

Concerned about a patchwork of laws, the NCAA has asked Congress to pass laws on names, image, and likeness. Former Ohio State University beneficiary and current US Representative Anthony Gonzalez, R-Rocky River, was one of the lawmakers bringing the charges. Nothing has passed so far, however, and proponents are not optimistic that the legislation will go into effect before July 1.

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More: What is the status of the name, image, and likeness legislation for Ohio college athletes?

Meanwhile, the NCAA Division I Council, which oversees the highest levels of college athletics, postponed a January vote on rules that allow athletes to make money. The delay came after a warning from the Justice Department that the new rules could violate antitrust laws.

Given the multiple states’ July 1 deadline and lack of congressional support to date, the NCAA is expected to vote on rules for name, image, and likeness at its June 22-23 session.

“We support the concept very much.”

“We are very supportive of the concept,” said John Cunningham, director of athletics at the University of Cincinnati. It’s all about how you do it and what the safety precautions are, the guard rails that are in place. “

Cunningham praised Gonzalez’s approach and said he would review Antani’s proposal.

Xavier University supports naming, image and likeness rights, but is also pushing for a federal solution, Greg Christopher, vice president and director of athletics for the school, told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday.

“Any other student would have the opportunity to generate income from their name, image, or likeness,” said Christopher. “There have been talks with state and federal lawmakers over the past few months. It was a joint effort, and I’m glad the state was involved. But a patchwork of 50 different states is no longer practical. At some point, federal legislation has to be implemented give to monitor this. “

Smith pointed out the benefits to Ohio State University athletes in the central Ohio market, where Buckeye football and basketball are attracting attention.

“There will be a number of athletes for whom this will change their families’ lives and the pressure to pay the bills for higher education. I cannot stress this enough,” said Smith. “To me it’s disappointing that we weren’t there earlier, but we’re here.”

Athletes are campaigning for compensation

Money has long been the dividing line between amateur and professional athletes. In recent years, however, these athletes have campaigned to benefit from their own work and success, especially as universities and television networks make money from their efforts. (The Ohio State University sports department set a school record of nearly $ 234 million between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.)

For example, Opendorse, a digital marketing platform for athletes, estimated that former Ohio state quarterback Justin Fields could have made more than $ 1 million a year from his name, image, and likeness. But the changes could also help lesser-known athletes with savvy social media presences.

The Bengali quarterback Joe Burrow campaigned for the compensation of the players. By one estimate, his success as the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner and director of Louisiana State University, which won the national championship, could have made up to $ 700,000.

With this in mind, Antani is proposing legislation to legalize the opportunities for students to capitalize on their own fame in Ohio. Any changes would need to be approved by both houses of the Ohio Legislature and the signature of Governor Mike DeWine. Everything is unlikely to happen before other states’ laws go into effect in July.

Ohio lags behind most other states; All but 11 have proposed laws to help students make money on name, image, and likeness. Michigan has already passed legislation on the matter. It comes into force on December 31, 2022.

Reporters Adam Baum, Keith Jenkins, Joey Kaufman, and USA Today Sports contributed to this article.

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