Gov. Kemp signs bill allowing Georgia college athletes to make money off their image

ATLANTA — Thursday is a big day for college athletes in Georgia.

Governor Kemp signed a bill into law allowing them to make money off their image. It’s called the Name, Image, Likeness Bill or HB 617.

“I think it’s just a sign of things to come and gives us another tool in the toolbox. And sure this issue will develop over the years,” said Gov. Kemp.

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It protects student athletes from being punished if they make any sort of profit off themselves - from social media to apparel to some of the big names managing their own brands.

Here’s the summary of the bill:

“A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 3 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to postsecondary education, so as to provide that student athletes participating in intercollegiate athletic programs at postsecondary educational institutions may receive compensation for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, or likeness; to provide for application to intercollegiate athletic associations; to allow for professional representation of such student athletes participating in intercollegiate athletics; to provide for findings; to provide for definitions; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

The new law takes effect July 1, but still needs approval at the federal level. It would allow students to profit from things beyond just having their room and board paid for by scholarships.

“Simply put, college athletes should be fairly compensated for use of name, image and likeness. As alumni myself, I’m a little biased, but think this will give Coach Smart every bit of help he needs to bring home a national championship, but that’s my own personal opinion,” Kemp said.

ESPN estimated that All-American level star athletes in football and basketball could bring in anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000 a year. They say lesser-known athletes could still make thousands a year.

“Look how much money they bring in for the school. Based on their ability on the field, they’re able to contribute a lot and they should be able to get some of that,” said UGA senior Austin Toomer.

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The bipartisan bill was sponsored by: Rep. Charles Martin [R], Rep. Trey Rhodes [R], Rep. Barry Fleming [R], Rep. Calvin Smyre [D], Rep. Philip Singleton [R] and Sen. Bill Cowsert [R].

READ THE FULL BILL HERE.

Other states have passed similar laws allowing college athletes to earn money for use of their name, image or likeness.

The NCAA’s attempts to reform its bylaws and permit college athletes to capitalize on their names, images and likenesses have stalled. Federal legislation on the issue is pending in Congress. But states, frustrated with inaction, have started passing their own laws. Florida and Mississippi laws authorizing student athletes to make money off their name, image or likeness take effect July 1, though Florida’s provision may be delayed another year.

UGA President Jere Morehead sits on the NCAA Board of Governors that is actively discussing the issue and will soon vote on new rules.

“Where we’re headed, you’ll see more and more states do what Georgia’s done today, and wouldn’t surprise me to see a federal solution at some point down the road,” said Morehead.

Questions remain on whether or not this new law could be used to recruit or if the money made would have sit in an account untouched until after they leave the school.

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Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.