09:28 AM

New legislation would support name, image and likeness rights for Ohio student-athletes

Buckeyes in many sports would benefit from proposal

A bill proposed by State Sen. Niraj Antani would allow college student-athletes in Ohio to benefit financially from their name, image and likeness.

Antani announced his plan to introduce the legislation Monday at a press conference at The Ohio State University. Gene Smith, senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director, joined Antani for the announcement at the Covelli Center and said the proposed bill represents a great opportunity for student-athletes.

“I’m so glad that the senator has stepped up to work with us to have a piece of legislation in Ohio that will allow our student-athletes this opportunity,” Smith said.

Antani said the bill was informed by his time as a student at Ohio State.

“I saw how hard student-athletes worked, both their academics and their sport of choice, since that time at Ohio State,” he said. “I strongly believe that students have an inherent right to their own image and likeness. I saw students who were on scholarship struggle to get by, including some of the biggest names.”

Before now, Ohio was one of 11 states with no proposed legislation. Some states that compete against Ohio State head-to-head have already passed NIL legislation, including Alabama, Georgia and Michigan.

“We cannot let Michigan win,” Antani joked.

The NCAA is expected to consider NIL proposals for Division I athletes next month. However, absent NCAA reform or federal legislation, Antani said now is the time to act. He intends to see the legislation passed and enacted by July 1.

As proposed, the legislation would require students to notify their college or university of any commercial agreement 15 days before it is finalized. The bill would prohibit students from signing agreements to promote alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or casinos – Antani said many college students are under 21, so this restriction seemed prudent.

Smith said if the bill becomes law, Olympic sport athletes stand to benefit significantly because many of them are on partial scholarships that don’t cover the full cost of their education. He said the university would be prepared to help student-athletes navigate this new world.

“We will not approve or veto a deal. We’ll just help them understand the deal and how it’s being set up,” he said. “And then we’ll also talk to them about how does that affect your brand, with that particular partner and other opportunities that you have ahead of you. This is all educational.”

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