Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani introduces name, image and likeness legislation

Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) announced Monday that he would introduce legislation that would allow college athletes to take advantage of their name, image and likeness. Credit: File photo from Columbus Dispatch via TNS

As legislation regarding the name, image and likeness of varsity athletes continues to emerge across the country, Ohio is stepping into action.

Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) announced Monday that he would introduce legislation that would allow college athletes to take advantage of their name, image and likeness. With this bill, Ohio would become the 17th state to pass a law allowing student-athletes to be paid in their image.

“As student-athletes who have the inherent right to own their own name, image and likeness, they should be able to do that,” said Antani. “Today is a big step forward for student athlete rights in Ohio. We are seeking to legalize it today with this bill, but we are doing so in a reasonable and safe manner.

If the bill passes, student athletes will have the opportunity to earn money through sponsorships and endorsements among other sources without fear of NCAA penalty.

The bill would require student athletes to disclose information about their contractual agreements to their university at least 15 days before signing an agreement. There would be no centralized disclosure database, but each instance will be managed by the athlete’s individual institution.

Student athletes would not be allowed to earn money through transactions involving alcohol, marijuana or gambling. Antani said Ohio law restricts these activities to people aged 21 or over. more, which many student athletes are not.

“I think we should be looking to do it in a reasonable and safe way,” Antani said. “I don’t see any reason why they would somehow need to commit to these categories and although there are [student-athletes] above 21 there are many that are not, and so to simplify the process we have limited it. ”

Under the bill, student athletes would also have the option of hiring a professional representative or negotiating endorsement contracts themselves.

Antani said he was confident the bill will be passed and implemented before its effective date of July 1, 2021.

Hoping the bill will pass, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said the athletic department would set up educational services to help student athletes reach deals. potential salespeople.

“We will spend the month of June educating our student athletes, all of our stakeholders, on the right way to engage NIL,” said Smith. “We’ll have to teach them – a lot of them – things to make sure they’re doing it the right way.”

The proposal comes a month and a half before the NCAA votes on its own NIL guidelines on June 22.

The campaign for NIL legislation began in September 2019 when the state of California introduced the “Fair Pay to Play” law which allowed college athletes to start profiting from their name, image or likeness. from 2023.

“It was always something I had thought about, but frankly what changed for me was California. Once California passed their legislation, I really started to take a good look at it, ”Antani said. “Things take a long time in the Legislature – things take a long time – and that is why we are here today. Although a third of the states have it, we will always be, I think, in this cutting edge category. ”

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