A State Law Approach to Student Athlete Name, Image, and Likeness Rights: A Guide for Interpreting Each States’ Legislation

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As heavily documented, the college sports landscape has shifted tremendously in the favor of college athletes since July 1, 2021, the first day that some states’ “name, image, and likeness” legislation first went into effect. California, Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, and New Jersey presented the first pieces of legislation that enumerated rights and protections for student athletes when it comes to receiving compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness. And, since then, twenty-three other states have followed suit in drafting their own name, image and likeness rights legislation. In doing so, these states have outlined very similar standards and requirements for student athletes, universities, athletic conferences, and organizations who oversee intercollegiate athletics, including the NCAA, when it comes to a student athlete’s rights to receive compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness; albeit, while manifested in a differently, but unique fashion.

Due to the differentiating nature of the state-by-state approach to this novel area of the law, the NCAA has clamored for a uniform federal approach to name, image and likeness legislation to alleviate many of its concerns on the topic. Namely, that the variance across states regarding this legislation will result in an uneven playing field, which would then cause college athletes to potentially choose to play for a school in a state that has the most advantageous name, image and likeness legislation. Therefore, several new bills have been introduced to Congress that attempt to address these issues and provide continuity for schools and athletes alike through a federal framework. However, there is no concrete timeline as to when the federal framework will come into play. Until then, the NCAA’s interim approach has been to defer name, image, and likeness rights enforcement to the individual states, and to the individual university school policies as permitted by each state legislation.  As a result, in just a few short months since the first pieces of state legislation went into effect, student athletes across the country have cashed in on a bevy of opportunities related to their name, image, and likeness rights, with many more on the horizon.

The purpose of this article is to summarize the key provisions of all twenty-eight states’ name, image, and likeness legislation in order to serve as a guide for navigating the legal landscape surrounding this novel area of the law. As the remaining states follow suit, and as states choose to amend their existing name, image, and likeness legislation, we will update this guide to reflect each state’s most current version of the law. Additionally, in the event that any federal legislation is enacted, we will update this guide to explain any relevant federal framework towards student athlete name, image and likeness rights.

Alabama

HB404

Effective July 1, 2021

Alabama has one of the lengthier laws on the books regarding name, image, and likeness rights. HB404 provides that student athletes participating in intercollegiate sports at a postsecondary education institution, may earn compensation for their name, image, or likeness as long as the compensation is commensurate with the market value of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness. It also states that a postsecondary educational institution may not adopt or maintain a contract, rule, regulation, standard, or other requirement that unreasonably restricts a student athlete from receiving compensation for their name, image, or likeness. However, the act states that universities may prohibit student athletes from entering in endorsement contracts with, or otherwise receiving compensation from any company or brand related to tobacco, nicotine, alcoholic beverage, marijuana, adult entertainment, casinos or entities that sponsor or promote gambling activities, or any contract that in the reasonable and good faith judgment of the institution, negatively impacts or reflects adversely on the institution or its athletic programs.

The bill also contains disclosure requirements. If a student athlete has a proposed contract in place compensating them for their name, image or likeness rights, then the student athlete must disclose that contract to his or her university in a manner prescribed by the university. If the institution determines that a term of the contract conflicts with a term of a contract held by the student athlete’s university, the student athlete may not enter into the contract for compensation unless the university gives prior written consent permitting the athlete to do so.  A student athlete may also not enter into a contract for compensation of their name, image, or likeness in a way that uses any registered or licensed marks, logos, verbiage, or designs of a university, unless the institution has provided the student athlete with written permission to do so

In terms of duration, any contract may not extend beyond the student athlete’s participation in the sport at the institution. Those who plan to represent student athletes for purposes of exploring or securing compensation for the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness must be registered as an athlete agent with the state or shall be a licensed attorney who is in good standing with the Alabama State Bar. Further, a student athlete must provide the institution with written notice at least 7 days prior to entering into a representation agreement with any individual for purposes of exploring or securing compensation for their name, image, and likeness. Lastly, the bill provides that each university must conduct financial literacy and life skills programming for student athletes, which should include information concerning financial aid and debt management, as well as recommended model budgets for student athletes based on that academic year’s estimated cost of attendance and the various scholarships statuses of student athletes at the institution.

Arizona

SB 1296 – Collegiate Athletics; Compensation

Effective July 23, 2021

Contrary to Alabama, Arizona’s law is one of the shortest pieces of name, image, and likeness legislation. SB1296 provides that any postsecondary institution that competes in an intercollegiate sport must allow a student athlete to earn compensation from the use of their name, image or likeness to the extent allowed by the rules established by any relevant national association for promoting or regulating collegiate athletics. Additionally, it protects collegiate athletes from being denied a scholarship or eligibility for their sport if they receive compensation in connection with their name, image, or likeness rights. The bill prohibits collegiate athletes from entering into contracts that conflict with their university’s team contracts in addition to entering into contracts that conflict with the intellectual property rights of any other person, including the student athlete’s university. Like many other states, the bill also requires that an athlete agent who advises or represents a student athlete in connection with earning compensation from the use of their name, image, or likeness must comply with athlete agent licensing requirements under Arizona law.

Arkansas

HB 1671 – The Arkansas Student-athlete Publicity Rights Act

Effective Jan 1, 2022

Arkansas’ legislation, HB 1671, outlines a student athlete’s rights to earn compensation for their name, image or likeness rights in a differently, but uniquely defined manner. For example, the bill states that a student athlete may enter into a contract and receive compensation for the “Commercial Use” of the student athlete’s “Publicity Rights.” It then goes on to define “Commercial Use” as the use of an individual’s readily identifiable name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness: for advertising, selling, or soliciting purchase of products, merchandise, goods, or services; or in connection with products, merchandise, goods, or other commercial activity that is not exempt under the bill. Moreover, “Publicity Right” is defined as a right recognized under state or federal law that permits an individual to control and profit from commercial use of the individual’s name, image, voice, signature, photograph or likeness. The bill states that an institution of higher education may not uphold any rule, requirement, standard, or other limitation of an athletic association or athletic conference that prevents a student athlete from earning compensation for the commercial use of the student athlete’s publicity rights. However, an institution may prohibit those contracts in connection with adult entertainment, alcohol, casinos and gambling, including sports betting and betting in connection with a video game or online game, tobacco and electronic smoking products, drugs, pharmaceuticals, weapons, or any products or substances prohibited in competition by an athletic association or athletic conference.

Additionally, a student athlete may not enter into a contract for the commercial use of the student athlete’s publicity rights if: (1) the contract requires them to endorse or otherwise promote the commercial entity or third party licensee during practice, competition, or other activity, (2) the contract conflicts with a term or condition of a contract, policy, rule, regulation or standard of the student athlete’s enrolled institution of higher education; or (3) the contract involves the student athlete’s performance or lack of performance in athletic competition. The bill also provides that student athletes must disclose any potential contract terms, conditions, parties, and proposed compensation, and any professional representation agreements to a designated official of the institution that the athlete is enrolled in and in a manner prescribed by the institution. Any athlete agent, financial advisor, or attorney who is providing professional representation of a student athlete must be certified or licensed in the state of Arkansas. Lastly, HB1671 provides a private right of action in the event either party suffers damage from a violation under the bill.

California

SB206 – Fair Pay to Play Act

Effective January 1, 2023

SB206 permits college athletes attending four-year universities in California the right to accept compensation for the use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness and prevents athletics associations from preventing participation in the association for permitting college athletes to exercise these rights. As with the other bills, the bill prevents any postsecondary educational institution from upholding legislation that restricts the rights of a college athlete to earn compensation based on the athlete’s name, image, or likeness and prevents a college athlete from being declared ineligible for exercising this right.

California also requires the athlete to disclose any agreement providing compensation for the use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness to the institution’s designated official. Additionally, as with other states, college athletes are able to obtain the services of an agent to represent the athlete in marketing opportunities and institutions are prevented from compensating college athletes for the use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness. Finally, a college athlete cannot sign an agreement that conflicts with the athlete’s team contract, but the team contract does not prevent the athlete from being compensated for using his or her name, image, and likeness when not engaged in official team activities.

Colorado

SB20-123: – Compensation and Representation of Student Athletes

Effective January 1, 2023

SB20-123 permits athletes enrolled in a higher education institution in Colorado to be compensated for the use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness, and to hire representatives to represent student-athletes’ interests and prevent the athletes from losing eligibility for exercising these rights. SB120-123 also prevents any athletics association from establishing legislation that restricts the rights of a college athlete to earn compensation based on the athlete’s name, image, or likeness or preventing the athletes from obtaining professional representation. Limitations on these rights also includes preventing institutions and athletics associations from providing compensation to athletes directly. Legal representation to an athlete must be from a licensed attorney, but unlike other states, this bill does not limit representation to a specific state bar.

In exercising these rights, college athletes may not enter into an agreement that conflicts with a team contract for which the athlete competes. If a conflict is present, the institution must disclose the conflict to the athlete. If a college athlete does sign an agreement providing compensation for the use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness, the athlete must disclose this agreement to the institution within 72 hours.

Connecticut

HB 6402 – An Act Concerning Higher Education

Effective September 1, 2021

HB 6402 provides that any student athlete who is enrolled at an institution of higher education may earn compensation in an activity unrelated to any intercollegiate athletic program, may obtain the legal or professional representation of an attorney or sports agent, and provides that no athletic association or conference may prohibit a student athlete from earning compensation from an endorsement contract or employment activity or from obtaining representation by a duly licensed attorney or sports agent. The bill requires each institution to adopt one or more policies regarding student athlete endorsement contracts and employment activities and must include provisions for (1) Requiring a student athlete to disclose and submit a copy of each endorsement contract, written agreement for employment and any representation agreement executed by the student athlete; (2) prohibiting a student athlete from entering into an agreement that conflicts with the provisions of any agreement to which the institution is a party; (3) prohibiting a student athlete from using or consenting to use any of the marks of the institution during the student athlete’s endorsement contract or employment activity; (4) prohibiting a student athlete’s performance of the endorsement contract or employment activity from interfering with any official team activities or academic obligations; and (5) identifying any prohibited endorsements. “Prohibited endorsements” are defined as the receipt of compensation by, or employment of, a student athlete for use of the student athlete’s person, name, image, or likeness in association with any product, category of companies, brands or types of endorsement contracts that the institution of higher education prohibits endorsing by policy.

Florida

SB646 – Intercollegiate Athlete Compensation And Rights

Effective July 1, 2021

SB646 provides athletes the right to receive compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness along with protection from the unauthorized commercial exploitation of the athlete’s right of publicity. Limitations on this right provide the compensation must be commensurate with the market value of the authorized use, the compensation must not be based on athletic performance or attendance at a particular institution, the compensation must be provided by a third-party that is unaffiliated with the athlete’s institution, the institution may not compensate or cause compensation to be directed at a current or prospective athlete, and the institution may not adopt any regulation that unduly restricts or prevents compensation for the athlete’s name, image, and likeness rights. Additionally, if an athlete may not enter into an agreement for compensation for the use of the athlete’s name, image, and likeness rights if the terms conflict with the terms of the athlete’s program. If a conflict does occur, the institution is required to disclose the terms of the conflict to the athlete.

While these rights are similar to what has been adopted by the other states, Florida also requires that any attorney representing the athlete for purposes of securing compensation for the athlete’s name, image, and likeness rights is in good standing with the Florida Bar and the duration of any name, image, and likeness agreement does not extend beyond the athlete’s intercollegiate athletics eligibility. Also, institutions are required to conduct financial literacy and life skills workshop training for a minimum of five hours at the beginning of the athlete’s first and third academic years. This training must include training on financial aid, debt management, and budgeting.

Georgia

HB 617

Effective July 1, 2021

HB 617 provides that student athletes participating in intercollegiate athletics at postsecondary educational institutions may receive compensation for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness as long as the compensation is commensurate with the market value of the authorized use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness. It also states that a postsecondary educational institution may not adopt a policy or rule that prevents its student athletes from earning compensation as a result of their name, image, or likeness and may not prevent athletes from obtaining representation from a licensed agent under applicable state and federal law or from an attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia. Like many other states’ bills, it contains a provision that says that a student athlete cannot enter into a contract providing compensation to the student athlete for their name, image, or likeness if a provision of such contract is in conflict with the student athlete’s team contract. Additionally, it states that a student athlete who enters into these contracts must disclose the contract to a designated official of the educational institutional and if the institution determines there is a conflict with the team’s contract, then the institution must disclose to the student athlete the provisions of the contract that are in conflict.

A very unique aspect of HB617 allows institutions the option to require student athletes to share up to 75% of their compensation with the shared funds to be deposited into an escrow account entrusted to the university’s athletic director as trustee. Then, one year after the student graduates, the student would be eligible to receive their pro-rata share of the pooled funds. The law also requires that universities must provide a minimum of 5 hours of financial literacy, which will include, at a minimum, information concerning financial aid, debt management, and a recommended budget for student athletes based on the current academic year’s cost of attendance.

Illinois

SB2338 – Student Athlete Endorsement Rights Act

Effective July 1, 2021

SB2338 creates the Student Athlete Endorsement Rights Act. The Act provides that student athletes may earn compensation, commensurate with market value, for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness, or voice while enrolled at a postsecondary institution and may retain a certified agent and licensed Illinois attorney for any matter or activity related to such compensation. Additionally, an athletic association, conference, or other group or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletic programs, may not enforce a rule that prevents a postsecondary education institution or a student athlete from participating in an intercollegiate athletics program as a result of a student athlete earning compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness.

However, an institution may impose reasonable limitations on the dates and time that a student athlete may participate in endorsement, promotional, social media, or other activities related to the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness. For example, a student athlete may not receive or enter into a contract for compensation for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, likeness, or voice in a way that uses any university’s intellectual property unless the university has provided the student athlete with permission to do so and may also prohibit a student athlete from wearing any item of clothing, shoes, or other gear or wearables with the name, logo or insignia of any entity during competition or an institution sponsored event. The law also prevents student athletes from entering enter into agreements that endorse or promote gambling, sports betting, controlled substances, cannabis, any tobacco or alcohol brand or company, performance enhancing supplements, adult entertainment, or any other product or service that is reasonably considered to be inconsistent with the values or mission of the university. In terms of disclosure, a student athlete must provide the university with written notice and a copy of the agreement within 7 days of entering into a representation agreement with any individual for the purpose of exploring or securing compensation for a student athlete’s name, image, likeness, or voice. And, like other states, any contract may not last beyond the athlete’s participation in the sport at the institution.

Kentucky

Passed Via Executive Order 418

Effective July 1, 2021

Executive Order 418 provides that any postsecondary institutions located in Kentucky may not prevent a student athlete from earning compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness while enrolled at the institution or from obtaining a certified agent relating to such compensation. However, a student athlete cannot receive compensation in exchange for a contract of endorsement, promotion, or other activity that the university determines is in conflict with an existing contract of endorsement, promotional or other activity already entered into by the university and may also not enter into agreements with entities that support or benefit the university. Under the order, universities are permitted to create reasonable limitations or promulgate rules pertaining to the dates and times that a student athlete may participate in endorsement, promotional, social media, or other activities related to a name, image and likeness agreement. A university may also prevent student athletes from entering agreements that it deems incompatible or detrimental to the image, purpose, or stated mission of the institution, or that uses or relies upon the intellectual property and trademarks possessed by the university. Moreover, a university may require the disclosure of any contract related to a student athlete’s name, image, and likeness to a designated official of the university. Finally, the executive order also provides that universities should provide financial literacy, social media and brand management, and time management education and resources for student athletes that earn compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness, as well as other students seeking such education or resources.

Louisiana

SB60

Effective July 1, 2021

SB60 provides that a student athlete may earn compensation for their name, image, or likeness as long as the compensation is commensurate with the market value of the authorized use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness. Any postsecondary education institution subject to these protections may not adopt rules or requirements that prevent or restrict an intercollegiate athlete from earning compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness. However, they may prohibit a student athlete from using their name, image, or likeness for compensation if the use of such conflicts with either existing university sponsorship agreements or contracts or the institutional values as defined by the university. Moreover, a student athlete may not earn compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness for the endorsement of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, banned athletic substances, or any form of gambling including sports wagering. The bill requires a student athlete who enters into a contract for the use of their name, image, or likeness to disclose the contract to the university in the manner designated by the university. Further, a student athlete may not use a university’s facilities, uniforms, registered trademarks, products protected by copyright, or official logos, marks, colors, or other indicia in connection with the use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness without the express permission of the university. If such permission is given, the university may require the third party who is engaging with the athlete to follow university name, image, and likeness and licensing protocols.

Under SB60, a university may not prevent or restrict a student athlete from obtaining professional representation by an athlete agent or an attorney engaged for the purpose of securing compensation for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness as long as the athlete agents comply with state and federal licensing requirements and as long as the contract for representation does not extend beyond his participation in athletics at the university. Notably, an attorney who is representing a student athlete for purposes of securing compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness only needs to be licensed to practice law generally, not specific to Louisiana or any other state. Lastly, universities must conduct a financial literacy and life skills workshop for a minimum of 5 hours at the beginning of a student athlete’s first and third academic years, and must cover information concerning financial aid, debt management, and a recommended budget for full and partial grant-in-aid student athletes based on the cost of attendance for the current academic year.

Maryland

HB125 – Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act

Effective July 1, 2023

HB125 provides that any university may not uphold a rule, requirement or other limitation that prevents a student athlete from earning compensation from the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness. Additionally, any athletic association, conference, or other group or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics, including the NCAA, is prohibited from preventing student athletes from receiving compensation, as specified under the bill. It also provides that an “athletic program contract” may not prevent a student athlete from using the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness for a commercial purpose when the student athlete is not engaged in official team activities. Student athletes may not enter into a contract that provides compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness if a provision of the contract is in conflict with a provision of their university’s athletic program contract.

Like other states, HB125 requires a student athlete who enters into a contract for compensation for their name, image, or likeness to disclose the contract to a designated official of the university. An athlete agent who wishes to represent a student athlete for the use of their name, image, or likeness must comply with state and federal athlete-agent licensing requirements. The agency contract must contain specified information relating to payment and services and a conspicuous warning to the student athlete regarding eligibility and notification responsibilities if an agency contract is signed. Lastly, a unique provision of the act mandates that universities adopt guidelines to prevent, assess, and treat brain injury, heat illness, rhabdomyolysis, and other serious sports related conditions, in large part due to the passing of the act’s namesake, Jordan McNair, who lost his life in 2018 due to a heat related illness suffered at a University of Maryland football practice. Although the Act does not go into effect until 2023, these safety requirements went into effect on July 1, 2021.

Michigan

HB5217

Effective Dec. 31, 2022

HB5217 provides that student athletes can earn financial compensation in connection with their name, image, and likeness rights and specifically prohibits universities as well as any athletic association, including the NCAA, from enforcing any rules that limit or prohibit student athletes from profiting from endorsement or promotional agreements. Additionally, these institutional governing bodies may not prevent a student who resides in the state and participates in intercollegiate athletics from obtaining professional representation in relation to contracts or legal matters relating to opportunities for compensation for the use of the student’s name, image, or likeness rights. Such representation includes athlete agents, financial advisors, or attorneys who are licensed in the state, as applicable.

The bill also places limitations on the student athlete’s ability to earn compensation related to their name, image, and likeness. For example, the student athlete is required to disclose the proposed opportunity to a university-designated official at least 7 days prior to committing to the opportunity or contract. In addition, student athletes are prohibited from entering into an apparel contract and earning compensation if that contract or promotional relationship is in conflict with any provision of their university’s existing apparel contract. If the university determines that there is a conflict between the proposed opportunity and any existing agreements of the university, the university must communicate that conflict to the student in order allow the student to negotiate a revision of the opportunity or contract to avoid the conflict. Lastly, under the law, student athletes are restricted from the use of the name, trademarks service marks, logos, symbols, or other intellectual property of their university in conjunction with the student athletes use of their name, image, and likeness.

Mississippi

SB2313 – The Mississippi Intercollegiate Athletics Compensation Act

Effective July 1, 2021

SB2313 provides that a student athlete may earn compensation, commensurate with market value, for the use of the name, image, or likeness of the student athlete while enrolled at their university. Universities may not uphold any contract, rule, regulation, standard or other requirement that prevents a student athlete of that university from earning compensation as a result of the use of the student’s name, image, or likeness. But, in order to protect the integrity of the university and its athletics program, a university may impose reasonable limitations on the dates and times that a student athlete may participate in endorsement, promotional, social media or other activities related to the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness. For example, a student athlete may not enter into a contract for compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness that uses any registered or licensed, marks, logos, verbiage or designs of a university and many not enter into any agreement that conflicts with a provision of a university contract, rule, regulation, standard or other requirement unless the university has provided the student athlete with written permission to do so. If granted the permission to do so, and if all parties agree, the university may be compensated for the use of the marks in a manner consistent with market rates. The bill also provides that a university may prohibit a student athlete from wearing any item of clothing or gear with the name, logo or insignia of any entity during competition or a university sponsored event.

Just as in other states, the bill outlines disclosure requirements. A student athlete must provide the university with written notice at least 7 days prior to entering into a representation agreement for the purpose of exploring or securing compensation for use of a student athlete’s name, image, or likeness. Athlete agents who wish to represent the student athletes must comply with state and federal licensing requirements and attorneys who wish to provide legal representation to student athletes must be licensed to practice law in the state of Mississippi and in good standing with the Mississippi bar. Lastly, no student athlete is permitted to enter into an agreement for their name, image, and likeness or receive compensation for the endorsement of gambling, sports betting, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, adult entertainment or any other product or service reasonably considered to be inconsistent with the university’s values or mission or that negatively impacts or reflects adversely on a university.

Missouri

SB1063

Effective August 28, 2021

SB1063 provides that no postsecondary educational institution may uphold any rule that restricts a student athlete’s ability to earn compensation as a result of the use of the student’s name, image, likeness rights, or athletic reputation. Additionally, it provides that no university may prevent a student athlete from fully participating in intercollegiate athletics or obtaining professional representation in relation to contracts or legal matters including representation provided by athlete agents, financial advisors, or legal representation provided by an attorney licensed to practice law in Missouri. The bill states that no student athlete can enter into an apparel, equipment, or beverage contract providing compensation to the athlete for use of the athlete’s name, image, likeness rights, or athletic reputation if the contract requires the athlete to display a sponsor’s apparel, equipment, or beverage or otherwise advertise for the sponsor during official team activities if such provisions are in conflict with a provision of a team’s contract.

Any student athlete who enters into a contract for the use of the athlete’s name, image, likeness, or athletic reputation must disclose the full contract to a designated official of the university. If the university determines a conflict exists, the university must disclose to the student athlete the full contract that the university asserts to be in conflict. Additionally, no team contract of a university athletic program may prevent a student athlete from receiving compensation for using the athlete’s name, image, likeness rights, or athletic reputation for a commercial purpose when the athlete is not engaged in official mandatory team activities that are recorded in writing and made publicly available. Such team activities may not exceed 20 hours per week during the season and 8 hours per week during the offseason. Universities subject to this bill must conduct a financial development program of up to 15 hours in duration once per year for their athletes. Lastly, the bill provides a private right of action for student athletes against any violators of the bill.

Montana

SB248 – An Act establishing Student Athlete Rights and Protections

Effective June 1, 2023

Montana’s law provides that a university or an athletic association, conference, or organization with authority over intercollegiate sports may not prohibit, prevent, or restrict a student athlete from exercising its rights to earn compensation for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness. Under the law, a student athlete may not enter into a contract that provides compensation to the student athlete for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness if terms of the contract conflict with the student athlete’s team rules or with terms of a contract entered into between the student athlete’s university and a third party. However, the team rules or a contract entered into between a university and a third party may not prevent a student athlete from earning compensation for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness when not engaged in official team activities. Like most states, a student athlete who enters into a contract for compensation for their name, image, or likeness must disclose the contract to an official of the university in which they are a team member. If a university asserts that the terms of the contract conflict with the team rules or with terms of a contract entered into between the student athlete’s university and a third party, the unit must disclose the specific terms asserted to be in conflict to the student athlete.

Nebraska

LB962 – Nebraska Fair Pay to Play Act;

Effective July 1, 2021, but no later than July 1, 2023

LB962 provides that no university may uphold any rule or standard that prevents a student athlete from participating in an intercollegiate sport for such university because a student athlete earns compensation for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness rights or athletic reputation. Any student athlete who enters into a contract that provides compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness rights or athletic reputation must disclose the contract to a designated university official. Under the bill, no student athlete may enter into a contract with a sponsor that provides compensation to the student athlete for their name, image, and likeness rights or athletic reputation if such contract requires the student athlete to display the sponsor’s apparel or otherwise advertise for the sponsor during official team activities and if such compliance with the contract would conflict with a team contract. Additionally, no team contract may prevent a student athlete from receiving compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness rights or athletic reputation when the student athlete is not engaged in official team activities.

Further, no university or collegiate athletic association may prevent a student athlete from obtaining professional representation in relation to a contract or legal matter. Athlete agents must be certified under the Nebraska Uniform Athlete Agents Act, financial advisors must be registered under the Securities Act of Nebraska, and an attorney must be admitted to the Nebraska bar in order to provide professional representation to student athletes. Finally, the act provides a private right of action for student athletes who are aggrieved by the violation of the Act with a statute of limitations of one year from the date of the cause of action.

Nevada

AB254

Effective Jan 1, 2022

AB254 provides that a student athlete may enter into a contract with an organization, other than a university or national collegiate athletic association, that provides for the student athlete to be compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness. A contract entered into by a student athlete for compensation may not conflict with any provision of a contract between the student athlete and the university in which the student athlete is enrolled. If it does, then the university must inform the student athlete and the attorney of the student athlete if they retain an attorney to represent them. Furhter, it provides that a university may not uphold a rule that prevents a student athlete from being compensated for the use of their name, image or likeness. The bill does state that a university may adopt a policy that imposes reasonable restrictions on a student athlete entering into a contract for the use of their name image or likeness with an organization or person whose goods, services, or mission are contrary to the mission of the university. A university may also prohibit a student athlete from being compensated for their name, image, or likeness if the use of such is related to official activities of the university or intercollegiate sports at the university.

A student athlete who enters into a contract for their name, image and likeness rights must disclose the contract to the university in which they are enrolled. Additionally, a university may require a student athlete to take courses or receive education in contracts, financial literacy or any other subject the university deems necessary to prepare a student athlete to enter into contracts. Before signing a letter of intent with the university, any prospective student athlete must disclose any previous or existing contract held by them that provides for the student athlete to be compensated for their name, image, or likeness to the university. Due to the fact that the act is not set to go into effect until 2022, the Act provides that the Nevada Legislative Committee on Education must appoint a committee to conduct an interim study concerning the use of the name, image, and likeness rights of a student athlete.

New Jersey

Bill NJ S971 – New Jersey Fair Play Act

Effective Fifth Academic Year Following Date of Enactment – 2024-2025 Academic Year

In addition to permitting compensation, S971 permits college athletes to hire representatives to represent college athletes’ interests, prevents any four-year institution of higher education in New Jersey from upholding any rule that would prevent a college athlete from earning compensation from the athlete’s name, image, or likeness, and prevents the athlete from being declared ineligible for exercising these rights. 

In turn, college athletes would be forbidden from earning compensation for their name, image, or likeness in connection with selected industries and products. This includes adult entertainment products and services; alcohol products; casinos and gambling, including sports betting, the lottery, and betting in connection with video games, online games, and mobile devices; tobacco and electronic smoking products and devices; prescription pharmaceuticals; a controlled dangerous substance; and weapons, including firearms and ammunition. Violation of this provision would cause the revocation of the athlete’s institutional scholarship. College athletes would also be prevented from using his or her name, image, and likeness that conflicts with a team contract when engaged in official team activities. Additionally, an institutional team contract would allow the institution, athletic association, conference, or other group or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics to use the athlete’s name, image, or likeness for advertising and marketing purposes without additional compensation paid to the athlete. Athletes would be required to disclose any agreements providing compensation for the use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness rights to the designated institutional official. If an athlete seeks legal representation, the athlete is required to use lawyers licensed in New Jersey with the lawyers being required to comply with the terms of the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act.

New Mexico

SB94 – Student Athlete Endorsement Act

Effective July 1, 2021

SB94 provides that any post-secondary educational institution may not uphold any rule, requirement, standard or other limitation that prevents a student athlete of that institution from fully participating in athletics without penalty for earning compensation from a third party as a result of the use of the student athlete’s name, image, likeness or athletic reputation, and may not prevent a student athlete from receiving third-party compensation for the use of their name, image, likeness or athletic reputation when the student athlete is not engaged in official, mandatory team activities. Additionally, the Act states that a third party may not offer a student athlete a contract providing compensation to the student athlete for use of the student athlete’s name, image, likeness or athletic reputation that requires a student athlete to advertise for the sponsor in person during official, mandatory team activities without the approval of the student athlete’s university. Moreover, a university may not interfere with or prevent a student athlete from obtaining representation unaffiliated with the university or its partners in relation to contracts or legal matters.

North Carolina

Executive Order 223

Effective July 2, 2021

Executive Order 223 provides that student athletes are allowed by the law of the state to earn compensation, and obtain related representation for use of their name, image, and likeness while enrolled at the university. A student athlete’s authorized representative relating to any agreement for use of their name, image, and likeness must comply with the North Carolina Athlete Agent Act, and applicable federal law. Universities may prohibit student athletes from receiving compensation or entering into agreements for use of their name, image, and likeness if such agreements conflict with a contract of the institution and if the agreement stems from supporting organizations of the institution including entities that are wholly or partially owned or controlled by the institution. Further, a university may impose reasonable limitations or exclusions on the categories and brands that a student athlete may receive compensation for, to the extent that the university reasonably determines that a certain category or brand is antithetical to the values of the university or if it determines that the association with the product or brand may negatively impact the image of the university. Additionally, a university may limit compensation regarding name, image, and likeness of a student athlete during official team activities or university sponsored events.

Interestingly, a university may require and establish procedures for determining that a student’s name, image, and likeness use is commensurate with fair market value. Similarly, a university may also limit a student athlete’s compensation as it pertains to the use of the university’s intellectual property, facilities or other equipment and gear provided by the university, which includes uniforms and logos. And, a university may promulgate reasonable rules and regulations regarding reporting and disclosure requirements as it relates to a student athlete’s receipt of compensation, execution of a contract providing compensation, or intent to enter into a contract providing compensation. Lastly, the Executive Order provides that universities are encouraged to provide financial literacy and life-skill programs to their student athletes, including educational workshops on time management and budgeting.

Ohio

SB187

Effective July 1, 2021

SB187 provides that no university may uphold any rule, requirement or other limitation that prevents a student of that university from fully participating in intercollegiate athletics because the student earns compensation from their name, image, or likeness. Additionally, an athletic association, conference, or other group or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics, including the NCAA, may not prevent a student of a university from fully participating in intercollegiate athletics because they earn compensation as a result of the use of the student’s name, image or likeness. A student may not enter into a contract providing compensation to them for their name, image, or likeness that requires the student to display a sponsor’s product, or advertise for a sponsor, during official team activities or any other time if that requirement is in conflict with a provision of a contract that the university is a party to. And, any student who intends to enter into a contract providing compensation to the student athlete for the use of their name, image, or likeness must disclose the proposed contract to a designated university official for them to review. If the university determines that a provision of the proposed contract is in conflict with any existing provisions of a contract to which the university is a party, the university must communicate it to the student, where the student will then have an opportunity to negotiate a revision to the proposed contract in order to avoid the conflict. Similar to many other states’ laws, a university, athletic association, conference, or other group or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics may prohibit a student athlete from entering into a contract providing compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness if the contract is associated with drugs, tobacco, adult entertainment, or any casino or entity that promotes gambling activities. Lastly, under the Act, an athletic association, conference, or other group or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics, including the NCAA, may not prevent a university from fully participating in intercollegiate athletics because a student of that university obtains professional representation in relation to contracts or legal matters regarding opportunities to earn compensation for the use of the student’s name, image, or likeness.

Oklahoma

HB 1994

Effective January 1, 2022

HB 1994 states that no university may uphold any rule, requirement standard or other limitation that prevents a student athlete from earning compensation as a result of the use of their name, image, or likeness. Moreover, any university, athletic association, conference, or other group or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics may not prevent a student participating in intercollegiate athletics from obtaining professional representation in relation to contracts or legal matters, including, but not limited to, representation provided by athlete agents or legal representation provided by attorneys. Any professional representation provided by athlete agents must be by those licensed pursuant to the Uniform Athlete Agents Act, in addition to complying with the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act, and any legal representation of student athletes must be by attorneys licensed to practice law in Oklahoma. A student athlete may not enter into a contract that provides compensation to the athlete for the use of their name, image or likeness if a provision of the contract is in conflict with a provision of the athlete’s team contract. If a university determines that there is a conflict, then the university must disclose the specific contractual provisions asserted to be in conflict to the athlete.  HB 1994 also provides that any athletic program team contract modified or renewed on or after January 1, 2022, may not prevent a student athlete from using their name, image, or likeness for a commercial purpose when the athlete is not engaged in official team activities.

Oregon

SB5

Effective July 1, 2021

SB5 provides that a university, athletic association, conference or organization with authority over intercollegiate sports may not prohibit, prevent, or restrict a student athlete from exercising their rights to earn compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness and may not prohibit a student athlete from retaining professional representation from an athlete agent. It also provides that a university or an athletic association, conference or organization with authority over intercollegiate sports may not prohibit a student athlete from receiving food, drink, lodging or medical expenses or insurance coverage from a third party as compensation for use of their name, image, or likeness. Additionally, a student athlete may not enter into a contract that provides compensation to the student athlete for the use of their name, image or likeness if the terms of the contract conflict with the student athlete’s team rules or with terms of a contract entered into by the university.

However, neither the team rules or a contract entered into between the university and a third party may prevent a student athlete from earning compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness when not engaged in official team activities. A student athlete who enters into a contract that provides compensation to the student athlete for use of the student athlete’s name, image or likeness must disclose the contract to a designated university official of the university in which the student is an athlete. With regards to representation, a student athlete may not contract with or retain a person as the student athlete’s professional representative or athlete agent if the person represented a university at any time in the preceding 4 years. Those athlete agents or attorneys who wish to provide professional representation must be registered, licensed, or certified by the state, as applicable.

Pennsylvania

SB381

Effective July 1, 2021

SB381 provides that student athletes competing in intercollegiate athletics may earn compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness as long as the compensation is commensurate with the market value of the student athlete’s name, image or likeness and states that no university may uphold a rule, requirement, standard or other limitation that prevents a student athlete from earning compensation through the use of their name, image, or likeness rights. SB381 also contains a unique royalty payment provision. It states that a person that produces a college team jersey, video game or trading card for the purpose of making a profit must make a royalty payment to each college student athlete whose name, image, likeness or other individually identifiable feature is used.

The law also states that no university, athletic association, conference or other group or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics may interfere with or prevent a college student athlete from fully participating in intercollegiate athletics for obtaining professional representation in relation to contracts or legal matters, including agents, financial advisors or lawyers in relation to their name, image, or likeness rights.

The bill does not grant the right to a student athlete to use the name, trademarks, services marks, logos, symbols or any other intellectual property of a university, athletic association, conference or other group or organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics in furtherance of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness compensation opportunities. Similar to many other states, student athletes may not earn compensation in connection with adult entertainment products and services, alcohol products, casinos and gambling, tobacco and electronic smoking products and devices, prescription pharmaceuticals, and other controlled dangerous substances. Student athletes must also disclose any contract for compensation relating to their name, image or likeness at least 7 days prior to execution of the contract to a designated official of the university. The university may then prohibit a student athlete’s involvement in name, image or likeness activities that conflict with existing institutional sponsorship arrangements at the time the student athlete discloses the contract to the university and, in its own discretion, may prohibit a student athlete’s involvement in name, image or likeness activities that conflict with university values. Lastly, the bill provides that a student athlete may adjudicate any claim in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania that arises pursuant to a violation of the bill.

South Carolina

SB935

Effective July 1, 2021

SB935 provides that a student athlete enrolled at a university may earn compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness. It states that the compensation must represent a genuine payment for the use of their name, image, or likeness, separate from his athletic participation or performance. A student athlete may receive compensation only for the use of their name, image or likeness for third party endorsements, the student athlete’s non-athletic work product, or activities related to a business that the student athlete owns. A student athlete may not use the university’s facilities, uniforms, or intellectual property in connection with the use of the student athlete’s name, image or likeness activities. Additionally, a student athlete’s name, image and likeness activities are prohibited from taking place during the university’s participation in academic, athletic, or team-mandated activities as defined by the university. An entity with a purpose that includes supporting or benefiting a university or its athletic programs; or an officer, director, or employee of a university or such an entity may not directly or indirectly compensate current or prospective student athletes for the use of their name, image, or likeness.

Notwithstanding conference or collegiate athletic association rules, bylaws, regulations and policies to the contrary, a university is prohibited from adopting or maintaining a contract or rule that prevents or restricts a student athlete from earning compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness, or from obtaining an athlete agent for the purpose of securing compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness. A university may prohibit a student athlete from using their name, image or likeness for compensation if the use conflicts with existing institutional sponsorship agreements or other contracts, or institutional values defined by the university. Any current student athletes must disclose the terms of a name, image, or likeness contract prior to signing contract, in a manner designed by the university and must describe the proposed use of the athlete’s name, image or likeness, compensation arrangements, the name of the athlete agent, and a list of all parties to the contract. Compensation for the use of a student athlete’s name, image or likeness may not be for the endorsement of tobacco, alcohol, illegal substances, banned athletic substances, or gambling, including sports betting. Something extremely unique to this bill is the establishment of a Student Athlete Trust Fund. It requires every governing body of every participating university in the state to create a trust fund and fund the trust with a percentage of the intercollegiate sport gross revenue. For each year that a student athlete maintains good academic standing, $5,000 will be deposited into the fund on the student athlete’s behalf, with the total trust fund amount not exceeding $25,000 per student athlete. Then, upon the fulfillment of all academic requirements for graduation and the completion of a state-approved financial literacy course by a student athlete, their participating institution must provide a one-time payment to the student athlete in the full amount deposited on their behalf in the fund.

Tennessee

HB 1351

Effective Jan 1, 2022

HB1351 provides that a student athlete at a university may earn compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness as long as such compensation is commensurate with the fair market value of the authorized use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness. Student athletes who earn compensation for the use of the athlete’s name, image, or likeness must disclose any agreement and the terms of such agreement to the university and file annual reports with the university in which they are enrolled, at a time and in a manner designated by the university. This report must include the identities of entities or persons who provide compensation to the student athlete, the amount of compensation received from each person or entity, and any other information the university deems relevant for determining such identities and compensation. Additionally, a university may not adopt a rule that prevents or unduly restricts a student athlete from earning compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness, but may adopt reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions to prevent a student athlete’s name, image, or likeness activities from interfering with team activities, the university’s operations, or the use of their facilities. For example, a university may prohibit a student athlete’s involvement in name, image, and likeness activities that are reasonably considered to be in conflict with the values of the University and may also prohibit the use of the university’s intellectual property by the student athletes in their personal name, image, and likeness activities. Student athletes are also are prohibited from involvement in name, image or likeness activities that promote gambling, tobacco, alcohol, and adult entertainment.

The bill also provides that student athletes may obtain professional representation for their name, image, and likeness opportunities by a third party, including a licensed athlete agent or an attorney in good standing with the board of professional responsibility or equivalent entity in the state in which they are licensed. Any representation agreement may not be in effect any longer than the duration of the athlete’s participation in an athletic program at the institution.  Further, no student athlete may enter into an agreement for compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness if the agreement conflicts or competes with the terms of an existing agreement entered into by the university the athlete attends. Lastly, during the student athlete’s first full time term of enrollment, the university must conduct a financial literacy workshop for student athletes, which must cover, at a minimum, information related to the requirements of this bill, budgeting, and debt management.

Texas

SB1385

Effective July 1, 2021

SB1385 provides that a university may not adopt or enforce a policy or limitation that prevents a student athlete from earning compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness when the student athlete is not engaged in official team activities or from obtaining professional representation, including by an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, for contracts or other legal matters relating to the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness. A student athlete participating in a university athletic program must, before entering into the contract, disclose to the university any proposed contract the student may sign for use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness. Moreover, a student athlete may not enter into a contract for the use of their name, image or likeness if any provision of the contract conflicts with a provision of a university contract, a policy of the athletic department of the institution, or a provision of the honor code of the institution. A student athlete may also not enter into a contract for the use of their name, image, or likeness if the contract is for an endorsement of alcohol, tobacco products, nicotine products, anabolic steroids, sports betting, casino gambling, a firearm that the student athlete cannot legally purchase, or a sexually oriented business as defined by Texas law. However, a student athlete is permitted to earn compensation from selling their autograph as long as the sale is done in a lawful manner.

Further, student athletes may not enter into contracts for the use of their name, image or likeness if the duration of the contract extends beyond the student athlete’s participation in the university athletic program. If the university determines that there is a provision of the prospective student athlete contract for the use of their name, image or likeness that conflicts with a provision of the student athlete’s team contract, a provision of an institutional contract of the university, or a provision of the honor code of the university, the university must disclose the conflict to the student athlete where the athlete will then have 10 days to resolve the conflict after disclosure. Lastly, SB1385 mandates that universities must require a student athlete participating in a university athletic program at the university to attend a financial literacy and life skills workshop at the beginning of the student’s first and third academic years at the university. The workshop must be 5 hours long and include information on financial aid, debt management, time management, budgeting, and academic resources available to the student athlete.

About the Author
Joshua Levey

Joshua Levey is an attorney at Vela Wood. He focuses his practice on Sports and Gaming in addition to focusing on various Venture Capital matters.

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