General Assembly supports change to allow student-athletes to profit off likeness

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:09 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:55 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The General Assembly is considering more than just those billions in federal aid during their special session; one proposal in the budget would allow student-athletes in college to profit off their image.

It’s a nationwide effort to get collegiate athletes paid with what is called “name, image, and likeness” (NIL) laws.

“It really does up-end the student-athlete model when you inject the ability to profit off your name, image and likeness in there,” said intellectual property attorney, Zachary Cohen, with Thompson McMullen.

Tucked away in the proposed budget are provisions to NIL laws, meaning student-athletes would be able to market themselves with endorsements.

“This is something that athletes have been clamoring for. There’s a lot of money being made by everyone but them,” Cohen said.

According to the proposal, they cannot tie themselves to endorsements related to things like gambling, drug use and weapons.

Cohen says this could change the dynamic of the student-athletes and could be an advantageous tool for business-savvy players.

“High profile athletes will look at the various state laws and how restrictive they are in their endorsement deals, in deciding what universities to attend,” Cohen said.

Last month, the NCAA changed its rules, giving the power to each state. Some companies jumped at the chance, like a State Farm agency in Texas that signed a Texas A&M football player.

“Us athletes deserve it, and I am glad the NCAA gave us the opportunity,” said Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M tight end.

Scout Semple, an agent with the State Farm location added, “first chance this became available, we wanted to hop on it and help them out.”

Elsewhere in the Lone Star State, a Texas Tech basketball player also signed an endorsement deal with a local steakhouse.

“It’s the best steakhouse in Lubbock!” said Texas Tech student Terrence Shannon, Jr.

Governor Northam’s office sent this statement to NBC12:

“The administration worked closely with several universities on this issue. The Governor feels it is important to provide consistency and allow Virginia universities to remain competitive. State NIL language also adds a layer of protection for students by reinforcing the requirements for athlete representation in the Commonwealth.”

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