Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order on Thursday allowing student-athletes in the state of Kentucky to profit off of their Name, Image, and Likeness.
After talking with higher education and legislative leaders in the commonwealth, Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order allowing student athletes in Kentucky to receive fair compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness.
— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) June 24, 2021
This news comes just a day after NCAA president Mark Emmert announced that the association planned to create interim rules by July 1 authorizing their student-athletes to earn money off of NIL.
The states of Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and New Mexico had already enacted NIL laws that will go into effect on July 1st. The NCAA had previously been on record opposing these laws and even threatened to take action against schools in those states. With more states planning to follow suit, the NCAA was given no choice, but to change their rules.
Some coaches have gone on social media to express their approval with this decision:
— Chris Mack (@CoachChrisMack) June 24, 2021
Thank you @GovAndyBeshear for giving our players the extraordinary opportunity to earn additional compensation for use of their Name, Image, and Likeness. I know they are grateful for everyone coming together to make this a reality.#GoCards pic.twitter.com/44cqcH3Co4
— Coach Satterfield (@CoachSattUofL) June 24, 2021
We applaud @GovAndyBeshear on this ground breaking decision. The NIL era allows our student-athletes to enhance their profile; setting them up for success is our #1 priority. This is about opportunity, and we are all for it.#GoCards pic.twitter.com/E8lXhwSy0E
— Jeff Walz (@CoachJeffWalz) June 24, 2021
For me, this is an overwhelmingly positive development for college athletics in general, but even more so for the major universities in Kentucky.
This law gives student-athletes the chance to earn money from third parties in exchange for their Name, Image, and Likeness. The possibilities here are pretty endless. Athletes from any sport can sign exclusive sponsorship or endorsement deals. They can accept money for autographs, pictures, etc. Social media will surely provide major opportunities for these players to capitalize on their worth as well.
There are going to be a few restrictions as to the kind of companies that students are allowed to work with. Schools will be able to impose restrictions of their own, but I would think that those would mostly deal with conflicts of interest in regards to current university sponsorships. For example, Louisville players will still be required to honor the school’s lucrative deal with Adidas. They won’t be able to sign endorsements with Nike, Under Armour, etc. Any restrictions will likely be minor though in the grand scheme of things. Student-athletes, whose NIL has largely been exploited for decades, will now have access to all different kinds of money-making opportunities off the field.
Louisville is a city with a metro population of over one million people. It is one of the largest cities in the nation that does not house a “Big Four” professional sports franchise. Athletes at UofL won’t have much local competition when it comes to signing endorsements. There are already plenty of companies that have longstanding relationships with the university. The cardinal logo itself carries a certain amount of weight around here, but now these places can use individual players to promote themselves. Surely there will be businesses of all sizes around the city that will want to take advantage of this new order.
This is something that will only help in regards to recruiting with some of the larger sports like football and men’s/women’s basketball. Other sports with stricter scholarship requirements have potentially much more to gain, though.
Think of the Louisville baseball program. Dan McDonnell has built a powerhouse since taking over as head coach in 2007, reaching the College World Series 5 times in 12 NCAA tournament appearances. According to current NCAA rules, a Division-1 baseball team is only allowed 11.7 full scholarships per season that can be divided up among 27 of the 35 players on each roster. The MLB Draft has 40 rounds each year and routinely steals away D-1 baseball commits just weeks before they are set to arrive on campus. There will still be plenty of high school baseball players that jump to the pros, but college programs can now compete with the money a player might be making from a professional signing bonus in the later rounds.
Every program at the University of Louisville with major scholarship restrictions just gained a huge advantage in recruiting. There are definitely other universities thinking the exact same thing right now, but Louisville is undoubtedly a winner in this scenario. Basketball and Football players at this school largely receive full scholarships and now could have access to benefits well beyond the value of that scholarship depending on the individual. Many other students, though, have to pay at least a portion of their way while working full-time as an athlete on campus. It is hard to quantify the impact this decision could have on the University of Louisville Athletic Department as a whole.
My opinion on this matter has been clear for a while. If someone is willing to pay a student-athlete in exchange for use of their Name, Image, and Likeness, I see no good reason as to why that player should not be allowed to accept their money. There has been a movement to pay players for years now. A salary-based model was never really a possibility based on the challenges it would have presented. With NIL, some players will make more than others, some programs will be able to offer things that others simply cannot compete with, but student-athletes will have the chance to go out and earn what they are worth.
There is still plenty to discuss here, but this is just the beginning of a major change to the NCAA’s severely outdated amateur model. We are still probably a year or two away from the rules and restrictions being finalized, but nonetheless, student-athletes can now start profiting off of NIL. This is a huge development for University of Louisville Athletics.
UofL Athletic Director Vince Tyra and Associate Athletic Director of Compliance Matt Banker will conduct a press conference Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET to address the initiatives that the University of Louisville has in place regarding Name, Image and Likeness.