Ohio clears the path to allow college athletes to make money off their brands

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 6:01 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - Ohio joined several other states across the nation which ensure college athletes in the state can profit off their personal brands after Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order Monday.

The state joins seven others to pass a “Name, Image and Likeness” law that go into effect July 1. Six of them (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas) passed legislation, while Kentucky’s governor was the first to issue an executive order on the matter late last week.

If the state did not have something on the books at the same time as other states, Ohio’s universities feared they could miss out on some recruits.

“Athletes will naturally want to go to college in states where they can earn money and remain eligible to play,” DeWine said. “Without setting these rules, Ohio college athlete programs would be at a severe disadvantage.”

The NCAA this week could implement a policy that would allow student-athletes in every state, regardless of laws in place, to get compensated for their name, image and likeness.

The changes aren’t surprising to Brian Lutz, the University of Toledo’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Compliance.

“I think it was only a matter of time before something like this was going to happen,” Lutz said.

It didn’t happen the way lawmakers initially drew it up.

A standalone Senate bill was up for a vote in the House last week when Republicans added a high school transgender athlete ban. The Senate didn’t take up that bill. Instead, it tacked on the name, image and likeness language to a separate bill.

That prompted Gov. DeWine to sign his executive order Monday. The provision was eventually included in the state’s two-year budget passed later in the day to cement the change.

Though few athletes will see big paydays because of their brands, Lutz said the new policy will help benefit student-athletes across the board. They couldn’t previously make money for their other talents like art or music. It could also benefit students who want to start their own business.

“This is going to help prepare student-athletes for life after college athletics,” Lutz said.

He said the University of Toledo will review the changes and guide students through the process. That could also include helping students learn how to manage their finances.

“I think there are a lot of peripheral issues that are going to emerge, maybe some we haven’t considered yet that will offer us some opportunities to train and educate our student-athletes,” Lutz said.

Former student-athletes have long advocated for name, image and likeness provisions. That includes Cardale Jones, who quarterbacked the Ohio State football team that won the national championship in the 2014-15 season.

He testified in support of the legislation and was present at the executive order signing.

“This day is a groundbreaking day for the future of college sports,” Jones said. “I’m just excited for the future of student-athletes. They finally have the opportunity to take advantage of their name, image, and likeness and the brand they created on and off the field.”

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