FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Due to a rule change within the NCAA, college athletes have been able to profit from their fame for the last few months. Now, that ability is legally protected by Kentucky law.
On Wednesday, Governor Andy Beshear signed the state's name, image, and likeness bill into law, as several of Kentucky's biggest coaches and student-athletes watched.
"We all agree, for any athlete, their name, image and likeness is their own and no one else’s," said Beshear.
Coaches believe this law will protect athletes and provide them with opportunities in a quickly changing sports world.
"Things are moving and they're moving fast," explained University of Kentucky Men's Basketball Coach John Calipari. "You now have an opportunity not just to make money, [but] to be trained - to learn as you go forward."
"Today’s signing will have a historic impact on young women in this state today and for years to come," said Kyra Elzy, University of Kentucky Women’s Basketball Coach.
“This legislation will help our student-athletes continue to maximize opportunities while giving our schools more flexibility in supporting and protecting our young people," said University of Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops.
And student-athletes are excited. Take the University of Kentucky's Rhyne Howard as an example. After she and her team won the 2022 SEC Tournament, there's a lot of attention on her and that's something advertisers are looking for. She says that winning is the best reward of all, but she acknowledges that it's nice to be able to make some money.
"It's a lot of work that we do and for this to happen, it's, like, all paying off," said Howard. "I mean obviously winning and stuff is paying it off, but now people can advertise you and you get a part of it."
How did this all happen?
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA in a significant case that challenged the association’s ability to have national limits on benefits for athletes that are related to education, but more broadly the case has raised questions about the NCAA’s ability to limit benefits at all.
The NCAA Board of Governors has preliminarily approved changes to their eligibility rules that would allow such compensation, and the U.S. Congress has held hearings on creating a national standard for compensation. However, until that happens, Kentucky colleges and universities would have faced a competitive disadvantage without the state taking action.
In June of last year, after consulting with lawmakers and universities, Gov. Beshear was the first governor to sign an executive order immediately allowing students to receive such compensation. Senate Bill 6 codifies the order in state law.
Under the law, Kentucky colleges and universities have been directed to provide education and other resources to assist students with financial literacy, time management and social media and brand management. Additionally, colleges and universities will retain the flexibility to reasonably limit the time, dates and associations from which the student-athlete may earn compensation.