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Gov. Greg Abbott signs law allowing college athletes to profit off of their names

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law the name, image and likeness bill, which will take effect in the state on July 1.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed a Senate bill that will allow college athletes in the state to earn compensation for use of their name, image and likeness as Texas became the 19th state to pass such landmark legislation.

“I’m thrilled to hear that Gov. Abbott signed the Texas NIL bill into law,” said Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, who sponsored the bill in the House along with Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston. “This legislation will ensure Texas college athletes receive fair compensation for their efforts and prowess on the field, court and everywhere they display their talents.”

More:Texas House approves NIL bill for athletes by overwhelming margin

The House had approved by a 117-27 vote Senate Bill 1385 authored by Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, that is designed to keep the state in step with a nationwide movement by state legislatures to allow student-athletes to profit off their own names. The Senate originally passed the bill by a 28-2 vote.

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement Monday night, “I want to reassure and remind Longhorn Nation that we are prepared and have been actively engaging our student-athletes and staff for this new era of college athletics. With our Leverage initiative, a part of the 4Ever Texas program, our student-athletes have access to first-in-class resources and education on personal branding and brand management, business formation and entrepreneurship, opportunity management and financial literacy.”

The Texas law will take effect on July 1, the same as five other states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico).

Arizona’s law takes effect on July 23. The laws in Arkansas, Tennessee and Nevada begin on Jan. 1, 2022. In South Carolina and Michigan, athletes can take advantage of the state laws, starting later in 2022.

Athletes in California and Colorado can profit off their NIL starting in January 2023. Those in Montana and Maryland will have that same ability later that year, and New Jersey’s law takes effect in 2025.

Oklahoma and Nebraska have laws that would be in effect no later that July 1, 2023. Bills in Illinois, Louisiana, Connecticut and Missouri are awaiting their governors’ signatures.

“SB 1385 has the ability to benefit all college athletes and programs,” Krause said. “This is a positive step forward in college athletics."

Krause was adamant that the bill was necessary to keep Texas in step with other states on the legislation, fearing a failure to pass the bill would harm recruiting for in-state schools.

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Included in the bill are stipulations that athletes be paid “fair-market value” for their services and use of their name, image and likeness. Athletes would be able to be paid for everything from promotional appearances to product endorsements to autograph sessions and training sessions.

Like most of the other state bills, SB 1385 would restrict colleges and universities in the state from directly providing compensation to student-athletes for their NIL and require all student-athletes to disclose all of their NIL agreements to their school. The bill adds that student-athletes will not be considered as employees under Texas state law.

In addition, the law prohibits student-athletes from endorsing gambling or illegal firearms and from engaging in commercial activities which contradict institutional honor codes.

“I felt pretty good about the bill because there wasn’t a whole lot of criticism or concern,” Krause said. "I felt fairly positive we’d get over two-thirds vote, and I’m glad we hit that threshold so it sends a strong message that this would be good policy for Texas.”

Krause has been working on this issue for more than a year, he said.

“For me, it seems the time is right to move on this,” he said. “We see the NCAA’s arcane rules on athletes and how they can be (compensated). They can’t even afford to go out to eat. It didn’t seem to be real fair.

"California and Florida started acting on it, and it became a competitive disadvantage for (states without such legislation) from a recruiting standpoint. We need to have this in place or we’ll see (Texas) athletes recruited to other states.”

Along with the measure, athletes will be required to take part and attend a literacy and life skills workshop of at least five hours at the beginning of the students’ first and third academic years at their schools. The workshops would include information about financial aid, debt management and budgeting.

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These state laws could be rendered moot if federal legislation creates a law setting a national standard to keep the playing field level for all colleges. NCAA President Mark Emmert told the New York Times recently that he has recommended that the entire membership approve such legislation for college athletes before July 1.

The NCAA had hoped to have already addressed the ongoing issue, which began as long ago as 2009 when former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA for antitrust violations for allowing his image to appear on the cover of a video game. However, the issue was tabled at the NCAA convention in January after the U.S. Department of Justice posed antitrust questions for the NCAA.

Several conference commissioners have called for a nationwide standard to be imposed by Congress to avoid complications and unfair advantages.

“I think the benefit of such overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate send a strong message to the governor that the Legislature is in favor of this,” Krause said.