Statehouses, latest front in college athlete recruiting wars
With millions pouring into endorsements for college athletes, the latest battleground in the recruiting wars is the state house: A handful of states are already considering tweaking barely-dried rules to help their flagship schools. to win – or keep – the best prospects.
Over the past three years, at least 25 states put in place laws or decrees relating to the remuneration of the name, image and likeness of university athletes. All of the metrics make it clear that the NCAA can no longer limit this type of income, but some have established ground rules.
It’s those restrictions, which vary from state to state, that are now coming under second scrutiny as the competition to land the nation’s top high school athletes heats up.
Lawmakers in Alabama and Florida are already considering repealing or making major changes to laws governing college athlete compensation less than a year after they were enacted. Last week, Ohio State officials made it easier for their school to tie athletes to big contracts.
These moves could be the start of a never-ending effort to redefine the college recruiting landscape where states are constantly trying to outdo each other, said Gabe Feldman, director of Tulane’s sports law program.
“If the latest state law is more permissive, then other states are going to have to follow suit and follow suit. That’s exactly what we’re seeing now,” Feldman said. “Schools will do everything they can do within the rules to compete. The only way to stay on a level playing field is to scrap those state laws.
In Alabama, a bill to repeal a 7-month college athlete compensation law passed through the State House 97-1 and awaits action in the Senate.
“This may be the shortest-lived (bill) that has ever remained in effect,” said Alabama State Rep. Kyle South, the bill’s and law’s sponsor. aiming to reject it. “Pass it one year, repeal it the next.”
South said the two largest schools in his state, Alabama and Auburn, support the repeal effort. Alabama has a 2022 recruiting class ranked among the best in the nation, and Auburn was in the top 20.
“They want to be able to go out on the recruiting track and say, ‘We’re playing by the same set of rules…. We’re on par with Texas and Michigan,'” South said.
The rules mashup was created when court rulings and public opinion prompted a number of states, California foremost among them, to pass laws guaranteeing athletes’ right to earn money. silver. With few choices, the NCAA on July 1 paved the way for its athletes to start cashing in, establishing the strictest of guidelines that prohibit payment for play and the use of endorsements as recruiting inducements.
Schools were encouraged to create their own policies and follow all applicable national laws. And while many state laws share similar characteristics, they remain uneven. For example, states may have different rules regarding the use of team logos in endorsements, or limit school involvement in connecting athletes to businesses. A few simply give their schools wide latitude to write their own rules. within the minimum NCAA guidelines.
“The simple fact is that some states have a competitive advantage (for recruits) over others,” said South, the Alabama lawmaker.
Some Florida lawmakers want to eliminate the state’s ban on schools helping facilitate player endorsement deals. The change was proposed the same day Florida State lost a five-star rookie to tiny Jackson State; the sponsor of the measure insists the timing was coincidental.
Florida State Rep. Chip LaMarca, author of the original law and proposed change, said he’s not interested in repealing the whole thing, just tweaking it to allow schools to get involved. more directly to help athletes reach agreements. LaMarca said he doesn’t want to eliminate other provisions, such as mandatory financial training designed to help athletes manage their contracts and income.
“Repealing the bill would not be about protecting athletes,” LaMarca said.
His effort, however, struggled to gain traction. House Speaker Chris Sprows called it a low priority this week while adding: “To a certain extent it’s like a race to the bottom in college sports. Like, how many sports cars can we put in the hands of 18-year-olds? »
In Ohio, rules for athlete compensation were set by an executive order from the governor. Buckeyes officials determined they could change their own rules to create a new curriculum and ensure the school was a link between players and businesses.
“Our guidelines were originally created to be restrictive, but now that we have a better understanding of NIL, it’s clear we can provide more help connecting student-athletes to interested brands,” said Carey Hoyt, Director Senior Associate Sportsman at Ohio State. “Updating our NIL guidelines right now is what we needed to do to stay competitive in this ultra-competitive landscape.”
Buckeyes football coach Ryan Day welcomed the move. He described the “unease” among coaches and schools “because what one place can do, maybe another can’t, and he’s trying to figure out what those standards will be because it’s so new. But we adapt quickly.
Being nimble is key amid fierce competition. Supporters of big programs are fighting to stand out while winking and winking at the NCAA’s ban on using NIL offers as recruiting inducements. In more than a dozen major programs across the country, third-party “collectives” and nonprofits have formed to bring together millions of businesses and donors to offer sponsorship deals.
In Texas, for example, the Clark Field Collective said it had pledged up to $10 million to support NIL agreements for Longhorns athletes. Days later, the non-profit organization Horns with Heart was launched with a pledge of $50,000 a year to reward offensive linemen for NIL deals supporting charities.
Feldman warned that if many states followed Alabama’s efforts to repeal rather than amend their NIL laws, it would give the NCAA the opportunity to step in and create a new set of regulations.
“States that are crippled are those that impose restrictions on school participation and logo use,” Feldman said. “I frankly think it would be a mistake to repeal completely because it would open up space for the NCAA to step in.”
AP Sports Writer Mitch Stacy contributed from Columbus, Ohio.
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