“Today we are once again showing some of that Team Kentucky spirit by working together – universities as well as leadership of both parties – to help our world-class student-athletes in Kentucky,” Governor Beshear said after signing legislation in the statehouse Rotunda.
“The Commonwealth of Kentucky will continue to recruit top athletes, and when student-athletes choose to come here to win titles and enjoy our outstanding collegiate environment, they know they have the same rights and opportunities as those in other states. We all agree, for any athlete, their name, image and likeness is their own and no one else’s.”
Kentucky General Assembly members who sponsored the legislation voiced support for the Governor’s actions.
Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, expressed his support for compensating college athletes.
“If you want to sign an autograph and get paid for it, you can do it under this bill,” Sen. McGarvey said. “Or if an NCAA video game is going to feature you or your image on it, they would be permitted to give you some kind of royalty or payment for that.”
Sen. McGarvey filed numerous measures in previous legislative sessions relating to name, image and likeness and said he is thrilled to see it cross the finish line.
“We’re not looking to damage or hurt college athletics or compromise the amateur aspect of the game,” Senator McGarvey added. “With Senate Bill 6, we can make sure that these players are being treated fairly and equitably for what they do.”
Many university leaders, athletic coaches and student-athletes applauded Gov. Beshear’s action.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA in a significant case that challenged the association’s ability to have national limits on benefits for athletes that are related to education, but more broadly the case has raised questions about the NCAA’s ability to limit benefits at all.
The NCAA Board of Governors has preliminarily approved changes to their eligibility rules that would allow such compensation, and the U.S. Congress has held hearings on creating a national standard for compensation.
However, until that happens, Kentucky colleges and universities would have faced a competitive disadvantage without the Governor’s executive order and Senate Bill 6.
Kentucky colleges and universities have been directed to provide education and other resources to assist students with financial literacy, time management and social media and brand management. Additionally, colleges and universities will retain the flexibility to reasonably limit the time, dates and associations from which the student-athlete may earn compensation. ■