On Wednesday, Dec. 30. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bills that would allow college athletes to be compensated for their name, image or likenesses.
While a vast majority of the bills do not take effect until 2023, they are a part of a national movement to get payment to college athletes with no repercussions. The bill will also help against criminal penalties that college athletes face when they hire agents or accept gifts.
The Michigan legislation helps outline specifics for how athletes could land specific endorsement or sponsorship deals. As long as athletes follow the rules set, their university or college, athletic conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association cannot take away any scholarship or punish the student-athlete.
“For years we have all enjoyed the incredible talent of young athletes across the state. This legislation will change the lives of young men and women for years to come,” Whitmer said. “I am hopeful that the NCAA will set a national standard so that all players across the country are afforded the same opportunities.”
Ferris men’s basketball sophomore wing Deng Reng said that anything that would help bring in money for a college student is a great idea. Michigan followed the steps of California, Florida, New Jersey, Colorado and Nebraska as the sixth state to pass a law that protects the rights of student-athletes to be paid.
“This is a big deal and I feel like the law should’ve been passed a while ago to help those athletes who grew up in poverty and have nothing,” Reng said. “I’m all in because this is a way for fans, scouts and most importantly yourself to get your name out and try and get on the radar if you consider playing professionally.”
There are some restrictions athletes must face before they can move forward with any endorsement contract. Athletes must tell university officials about the proposed contract at least seven days prior to accepting the deal. They also are unable to sign any conflicting contracts such as apparel deals. For example, if a college already has a contract with Nike for shoes, an athlete that attends that school is unable to have a deal with Reebok or another company that required the athlete to wear non-Nike footwear during a game.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Joe Tate, who is a former Michigan State offensive lineman that pushed for change for college athletes as he knows what those athletes go through year-round.
“At its core, this legislation is to ensure student-athletes in Michigan are treated fairly,” Tate said.
We will all have to wait and see what changes happen between now and 2023 for college athletes as only six states have made this legislation happen. The NCAA will look different in a few years as the world continues to change.