Name, image and likeness laws vary by state. A closer look at those going into effect July 1.

·7 min read

An increasing number of states are headed toward laws allowing college athletes to make money from their name, image and likeness, beginning July 1. Meanwhile, it appears decreasingly likely that Congress and the White House will have a federal equivalent by then.

That means serious conflicts lie ahead for the NCAA, even if it follows through on its strong indications that its rules on the issue will change July 1. These conflicts wouldn’t just be between the states’ laws, they also would be between those laws and the association’s prospective new rules.

In addition, among the six states already set for implementation on July 1, there are at least two in which public schools and private schools in the same state appear to be facing different implications.

Here is a look at those situations, plus some of the ways laws in those six states could collide with the NCAA’s current and proposed rules.

Mississippi

The state’s law includes three provisions that are stricter than both current NCAA rules and its proposed rules.

Schools can “impose reasonable limitations on the dates and time that a student-athlete may participate in endorsement, promotional, social media or other activities related to” NIL deals. The NCAA does not address this, although its current rules do prohibit athletes from missing class time to participate in certain media or promotional activities.

Schools can prohibit athletes from wearing “any item of clothing, shoes, or other gear or wearables with the name, logo or insignia of any entity” during a game or “institution-sponsored event.” The NCAA has rules concerning the appearance of logos only during games and pre- and postgame activities.

The state is prohibiting athletes from having an NIL deal before the date on which they enroll at a college. In general, the NCAA’s proposed rules provide for the prospect of athletes having deals anytime they have started classes for the ninth grade.

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Georgia

The law has a provision under which schools can require athletes who have NIL deals to put some of that money into a pool that would be distributed to all athletes. The money from the pool would be distributed to athletes after they graduate or after they have been out of school for at least a year, with the amount to each athlete being based on the number of months in which they were an athlete for the school. Athletics department officials at Georgia and Georgia Tech say they do not intend to have such a pool, and it is possible this would conflict with the NCAA’s prohibitions on pay for play, since any athlete would be getting money.

Under another provision, no “officer, director, employee, or agent” of a booster club can provide an athlete with NIL compensation. The NCAA’s proposals do not squarely address this, but in a statement that addresses the rationale and intent of one proposal, the NCAA notes that “boosters may be the most likely sources of opportunities” for athletes to engage in NIL activities.

However, Georgia's law also says it will be "rendered null and without effect" upon the effective date of "any policy, rule or regulation" that lets college athletes be compensated for NIL use. So if the NCAA passes a new set of permissive rules that take effect July 1, this law could get wiped off the books.

Alabama

The NCAA’s rules would bar athletes from using Alabama logos, but the state's law would allow that — for a fee.
The NCAA’s rules would bar athletes from using Alabama logos, but the state's law would allow that — for a fee.

While the NCAA’s rules changes include the establishment of a third-party administrator that would oversee athletes’ NIL activities, the law establishes “the Alabama Collegiate Athletics Commission.” The commission’s purpose is “to develop rules and recommendations to maintain the fairness and integrity of amateur intercollegiate athletics.”

The NCAA’s third-party administrator would “monitor booster involvement, ensure integrity of the recruiting process and identify activities that may not align with the values of the NCAA, conferences or institutions … and evaluate NIL activities for possible malfeasance.”

The law also says that athletes cannot make NIL deals that involve them using their school’s “registered or licensed marks, logos, verbiage” unless the school has provided written permission in advance. If such permission is granted, the school “may be compensated for the use in a manner consistent with market rates or prior practice.”

This creates an interesting situation. The NCAA’s proposed rules allow an athlete making an NIL deal to identify the school they attend “consistent with institutional policies applicable to any student; however, no institutional marks may be used in such promotional activities.”

“The University of Alabama” and “Alabama” are among the school’s registered verbiage, according to a document on the Alabama athletics department website. So, while the NCAA’s rules would allow Crimson Tide athletes to say they play for Alabama, the schools could charge them a licensing fee. And while the NCAA’s rules would bar athletes from using Alabama logos, the state law would allow that — again, for a fee.

Nebraska

The issue of athletes having NIL contracts that conflict with school contracts is resolved in the schools’ favor for now. That will change.

But first, there is the matter of the law's effective date. Each school can decide when to put the law into effect for its campus, as long as it does so by July 1, 2023. Figure that no schools there will want to lose ground on competitors.

The law says athletes cannot have a contract that conflicts with a school deal, and the NCAA's proposal says schools would be allowed to prohibit athletes from having deals that conflict with existing school contracts. However, the law also says no team contract made, modified or renewed after the law's effective date can prevent an athlete from getting compensation when the athlete is not engaged in “official team activities.”

A view of Nebraska's Memorial Stadium during its spring football game on May 1.
A view of Nebraska's Memorial Stadium during its spring football game on May 1.

Those concepts eventually could clash if one company has a deal with a school, but a competing company would be willing to make a deal with the athlete for presenting themselves as endorser when not engaged in official team activities. Think about this in the context of shoe and apparel, or other equipment, companies that might find value in an extremely popular Nebraska athlete endorsing their products even if they could not wear or use those products while on the field or court for the Cornhuskers.

In addition, Nebraska’s law gives an athlete who believes they are being affected by a violation of law the ability to sue the school or “collegiate athletic association” (read: the NCAA) committing the violation. A prevailing athlete would be able to get damages and attorneys’ fees and costs. While a public school like Nebraska would get some protection from state claims laws, a private school like Creighton would not, according to University of Nebraska law professor Harvey Perlman, who was chancellor of the university from 2001-2016, and Omaha attorney William Hale.

New Mexico

While the state has only two Division I schools, its law has some of the greatest overt potential for collisions with longstanding NCAA rules and practices.

For example, the law says:

►A school cannot uphold any rule that would affect an athlete’s eligibility if the athlete receives “food, shelter, medical expenses or insurance from a third party.”

►A school cannot “prohibit or discourage a student athlete from wearing footwear of the student athlete's choice during official, mandatory team activities so long as the footwear does not have reflective fabric or lights or pose a health risk to a student athlete.”

The law also is silent on requiring athletes to disclose NIL deals, which would be required under the NCAA's proposed rules, and on athletes having deals that conflict with school contracts.

Florida

The name, image and likeness law in Florida is unique in what it doesn't address.
The name, image and likeness law in Florida is unique in what it doesn't address.

What makes Florida’s law notable is what it doesn’t say. The NCAA’s proposed rules changes say an athlete would not be able to have an NIL deal involving a product or service that “conflicts with NCAA legislation (e.g., sports wagering, banned substances).” They also say schools would have the discretion to prohibit athletes from having an NIL deal “based on other considerations, such as conflict with institutional values, as defined by the institution.”

Except for barring deals that conflict with school contracts, Florida’s law is silent on these types of prohibitions. The law requires the State University System of Florida’s governing board, which oversees all of the major public schools, to adopt rules and regulations concerning the law’s implementation. Proposed regulations available for public comment through yesterday also are silent on these issues.

But even if the board does implement some regulations along these lines, they will not be binding on the University of Miami, which is a private school. Miami is bound only by state law, said Corey Staniscia, chief legislative assistant to state Rep. Chip LaMarca, who authored the law.

Follow Steve Berkowitz on Twitter @ByBerkowitz

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How name, image and likeness laws for college athletes vary by state