Senate bill would clarify name, image and likeness options for college athletes

Senate Bill 6 would provide more concrete parameters in state law on what Kentucky college athletes can and cannot do

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Legislation passed Wednesday in the Kentucky Senate would provide a framework in state law for college athletes to generate personal income from their name, image and likeness, known as NILE.

Questions about NIL student rights have been simmering since June, when the U.S. Supreme Court called for changes to the NCAA, and many Kentucky varsity athletes have been operating under an executive order tied to NIL since July.

But Senate Bill 6 would provide more concrete parameters in state law for what Kentucky college athletes can and cannot do.

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee heard from University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari and UK director of athletics Mitch Barnhart, who both offered their support for the bill. . He then cleared the committee with unanimous approval.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, said the legislation would weave a thread of flexibility and balance for schools and student athletes.

“There are a lot of reasons we’re here today, but one of the reasons we’re looking at is the history and past of the NCAA, and for them not to actively act on an issue like this. here,” he said. noted.

Calipari said the NIL landscape continues to evolve and he thanked the many people who contributed to the legislation.

“Today we have the opportunity to address this evolving issue as the needs and demands of my players have changed. I am confident with your interests as well as mine. We will share in creating the best opportunities for players while allowing men’s basketball in the UK to remain the gold standard,” Calipari said.

Barnhart agreed with Calipari that NIL issues continue to change. He said the UK Department of Athletics had recorded more than 800 transactions from around 250 student athletes.

“We are seven months in and we know so little about it. We know a lot on the one hand, and we don’t know where it goes from here,” he said. “And I think this bill gives flexibility to the growth of this place.”

Not all students have the desire to participate in NIL, but for those who do, it’s important to protect them, Barnhart said. He pointed to Masai Russell, a student athletics and senior athlete in the UK who has worked hard to promote his brand and identity.

“It’s remarkable what she’s done, the way she works at it every day to do what she does with social media, and she probably has, I guess, 300,000 to 350,000 followers in what she does. It’s quite remarkable,” he said.

Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, is co-sponsoring SB 6. He said Wednesday was not the first time lawmakers have considered the bill.

“We’re here today to make sure this executive order doesn’t go away and to continue to improve the process as we all learn about this new name, image and likeness environment,” McGarvey said.

NIL does not pay student athletes to play their sports, nor does it permit a university or its athletic department to compensate student athletes beyond the already authorized scholarship and educational benefits, a- he declared.

McGarvey compared him to student musicians giving lessons on YouTube or student artists selling paintings.

“You can work your craft. You can promote yourself,” he said.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Norman D. Briggs