Alabama legislator wants to pay college athletes in the state
The National Collegiate Athletic Association pulls in more than a billion dollars each year through their sponsorship and governance of university-level athletics. Collegiate sports, nationwide, rake in over $12 billion each year. The NCAA's athletes, however, are prohibited from receiving compensation. Those who have run afoul of the organization's anti-compensation rules have been subjected to serious penalties.
Historically, the NCAA has suspended athletes, disciplined programs, and even become involved in criminal investigations over compensation policy violations by players, athletic staff, and even sports boosters. But with the technology-fueled growth of the sports economy and loud protests from professional athletes about the unfairness of the NCAA's compensation rules, the game is beginning to change. In fact, one Alabama legislator hopes to provide collegiate student athletes in the state with financial support through the use of NIL (name, image, and likeness).
House Bill 150, introduced by State Representative Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery), will allow college athletes to be directly paid for the use of their image, likeness, and name as long as they are enrolled in school and actively participating in a sanctioned team or individual sport. Already, student-athletes consistently see their NIL used across various media forms without receiving pay. These students make public appearances, are photographed for official publications, and even have had their likeness used in video games — and in each instance money is made, but never for the student.
“After all, we know many student-athletes, frankly, help generate millions of dollars for athletic programs across the country. This legislation will ensure all student-athletes will get a financial reward for playing college sports,” Hatcher said in a press release announcing the bill.
Hatcher’s legislation would give all student-athletes in Alabama the option to either leverage their NIL to earn compensation in the marketplace or choose to receive payment from a school-funded annuity upon graduation. Under the bill, athletes would also gain the ability to hire external representation to help them manage financial offers.
Additionally, HB150 provides for the formation of a working group to explore opportunities and make recommendations about how to implement NIL policies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which often lack the resources and sports investments that are common at PWIs (predominately white institutions). Alabama has 61 colleges and universities,12 of them are HBCUs.
“Earlier this month, the NCAA filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to reaffirm that it has ample latitude to govern college sports. That’s yet another delay. It’s time to have honest dialogue in our sports championship state to shape the conversation and bring all stakeholders to the table to equitably support all athletes playing college sports, ” said Hatcher.
According to a press release from Representative Hatcher's office, HB105 focuses on 5 central goals:
Prevent Alabama schools from limiting the compensation earned by student-athletes or revoking scholarships due to compensation received. Schools may not directly compensate student athletes, other than the living stipend and scholarships already allowed.
Prevent athletic associations from barring schools due to receipt of compensation by student-athletes.
Require schools to fund annuities for student-athletes who “opt out” of seeking compensation in the marketplace while playing college sports.
Require schools to conduct financial literacy and life skills workshops to prepare student-athletes for life after college athletics.
Require coordination between student-athletes and schools regarding contracts entered into by student-athletes.
Of special note is the bill's provision that allows colleges and universities in the state to deposit up to $10,000 annually into an annuity for each student-athlete that decides not to take advantage of NIL compensation. Theoretically, a non-NIL athlete could graduate after 4 years with a $40,000 check from their institution. Several other states have introduced and passed NIL legislation, but Alabama is the first to include language that creates an annuity of this kind.
So far, California, Florida, Colorado, Nebraska, New Jersey and Michigan have all passed name, image, and likeness (NIL) legislation.