The University of Kentucky has officially joined the NIL fray.
On Thursday, Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order allowing student-athletes in Kentucky to receive fair compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness, which you can read more about here.
Following the news, several of the biggest figures in UK Athletics released statements on this major development, including men’s basketball head coach John Calipari and head football coach Mark Stoops.
“We are entering into an exciting age in college athletics,” said Calipari. “At the University of Kentucky, we have always put student-athletes first and today’s executive order by Gov. Beshear – who I want to thank for making this a priority – will empower universities across the state to support their young men and women better than ever. Whether we are talking about name, image and likeness, lifetime scholarships, financial literacy, health and wellness, or player welfare, student-athletes have been at the center of every decision at Kentucky.
“With today’s announcement, we continue to take positive steps forward in supporting our student-athletes to an even greater degree statewide. They deserve our time, effort and resources in making sure they have the opportunities to benefit from the hard work they put into their athletic and educational careers.
“As we wait on federal legislation, our program will continue to support, elevate and educate our kids.”
“Supporting our student-athletes is at the center of Kentucky Athletics and today’s announcement is another step in that direction,” said Stoops. “Name, image and likeness issues are at the forefront of college athletics, and we appreciate Gov. Beshear helping us address current needs while long-term solutions are being developed on the national level.
“Our established principles of educational excellence, athletic success and personal development have us well-positioned as the NIL process begins.”
“I appreciate Gov. Beshear stepping up and making student-athletes in the state of Kentucky a priority,” said women’s basketball head coach Kyra Elzy. “The University of Kentucky has been a leader in name, image and likeness. I know our administration will work with the Governor’s office to ensure that student-athletes in Kentucky will continue to take the necessary steps to stay atop of NIL issues.”
“Today’s executive order from the Governor provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness (NIL),” said UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. “We are appreciative of that support as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted. The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago. What won’t change is our core and most important principle – the well-being and development of our student-athletes, while they are at UK and, as importantly, in preparing them for success in life, on whatever path they choose. We are extremely well-positioned to help our student-athletes navigate this new and complex terrain. Much of what we need to do to support students in terms of NIL – through The Kentucky Road initiative – has been in place for some time. We have a strong foundation, which we will now work to build on.”
Additionally, Mitch Barnhart will be available to the media via virtual press conference on Friday at 2 pm ET to discuss the news further.