FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Student-athletes across the country can profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) after Gov. Andy Beshear made it legal in Kentucky via executive order in July. But lawmakers said they now want to make sure the rules are clarified by law.
To that end, several are drafting a bill that would allow colleges and universities to place “reasonable restrictions” on NIL.
“I think, right now, what we're dealing with across the entire college athletic landscape is kind of like the wild, wild west,” said Sen. Max Wise, the Senate education chairman.
The Interim Joint Committee on Education held a hearing Monday to outline the draft bill. Representatives from the three of the state’s public universities said any bill should require athletes to disclose potential deals to their schools.
“No. 1, to make sure that the student-athlete is not entering into a what the NCAA would regard as a pay-for-play situation that is a disaster for both the student-athlete and for the institution,” University of Kentucky General Counsel William Thro said.
University of Louisville General Counsel Angela Curry added that NILs that would "impeded on the athlete's experience as a student" shouldn't be allowed, specifically referencing deals related to alcohol, tobacco, sex and gambling.
The schools said they also want to be able to protect their trademarks and copyrights and to be shielded from lawsuits stemming from NIL. They want to prevent schools from using NIL as a recruiting tool and to make sure the students are offered instruction about financial literacy.
“We are dealing with potentially complex licensing issues, intellectual property issues, even the art of negotiating,” said Matt Banker, associate athletic director at the University of Louisville.
Any legislation will likely apply not just to college athletes. Senate President Robert Stivers expressed support for preventing high school athletes from signing deals.
“I don't want you all getting stuck with a 17-year-old that, when they walk into your institution, they've already got a contract that their guardian has signed for them, and you're going to have to deal with it or somebody's going to have to deal with it,” Stivers said.
Wise said he will consult with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, but any bill will likely include restrictions on high school athletes.
“Especially those that may be five-star prospects — or those whose parents think they are five-star prospects — of entering into some type of contract or doing anything like that,” Wise said. “We want to protect all student-athletes, and I think the KHSAA will play a role in whatever legislation we put forth.
The bill is still being drafted, but Wise said he is working with Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey and hopes the final version will be one both Republicans and Democrats can easily support.
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