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Georgia House Bill 617 on Name, Image, and Likeness

This is me now

This is coming to you straight from the posts you didn't know you needed department. I know some of our community think Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) is great, others are concerned about implementation, and others flat out don't like it. Let's break down the bill that recently passed in Georgia and use it to make our discussion a little more concrete.

I like specifics, but the articles I've read on this subject haven't quoted from the actual bill. So I put on my lawyer pants (they still smell new) and read the actual text of Georgia House Bill 617. I'll link it at the end for you. Here are some interesting tidbits:

- someone permanently ineligible to participate in athletics doesn't qualify

- the bill requires financial literacy and life skills training

- the players are not to be blocked (by either schools or athletic associations which obviously includes the NCAA) from obtaining representation over these contract issues and this specifically includes sports agents

- scholarships don't count towards NIL money at all

- compensation may NOT be for the purpose of getting that student athlete to enroll at the university

- the compensation must be at the market value of the authorized use of the NIL

- student athlete contracts SHALL NOT conflict with team contracts

- teams may, but are not required, to contract with the student athletes to pool up to 75% of the gathered NIL funds, to be distributed after graduation (or 12 months post-withdrawal) in a pro-rata manner based on number of months the individual was a student athlete

I can see some big questions arising under this Georgia bill. How will they enforce this against the NCAA, and what are the teeth for enforcement? It provides for more training, but doesn't provide a funding source for the training; are the athletic departments going to have to eat those costs? Room & board aren't specifically exempted, so can they be charged against an athlete's NIL money? There are no restrictions on agents paying the players, will all the stuffy uptight boardroom folks be able to handle it when the biggest football and basketball stars are driving nicer cars than the college president? Will schools update their code of conduct to outlaw the use of NIL for things that might tarnish the school's reputation (adult websites or bars, etc.)? Or would that restriction be better placed in the team contract, so that it would then directly conflict and be outlawed by the bill itself? Those school preferences are complicated because the bill specifically states "A team contract . . . shall not include any provision which prevents or discourages a student athlete from receiving compensation for the use of his or her name, image, or likeness when the student is not engaged in official activities of the intercollegiate athletic program[.]" If I was an athlete and I wanted to use my NIL to sell subscriptions on Onlyfans where I danced naked, I think the letter of the law forces the school to allow me to do it. I think that very scenario will be litigated (at least in Georgia) within a year of the Bill becoming law.

The sharing is a special issue because it seems like it will undermine the effectiveness of NIL. Would any team be so bold as to take most of an athlete's NIL money to stick in a pot that no one gets until they either graduate or have left the school for a year? I don't think they will because if schools in other states aren't doing that it will be a major recruiting disadvantage. Further, sharing that money with around 500 other student athletes would really dilute the effectiveness. Some may choose not to pursue NIL money at all, or not with much gusto. If around 200 athletes a year are graduating, or leaving, and $200,000 has been added to this community pot, then that's just a $1,000 payout that these students have to wait years to get. That is super lame, but perhaps my figure is way too low. No one knows yet; it might be interesting to see what some folks are projecting.

Y'all check it out too and let me know what sort of hiccups you see happening with NIL. Here is the text of the bill: https://legiscan.com/GA/text/HB617/2021