The next state to offer college athletes the chance to profit off their name, image and likeness just may be Maryland.
The Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act, named after the former University of Maryland offensive lineman who died during a team workout in 2018, has passed in both the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate.
Maryland will join six states - including California and Florida - that have voted to expand college athletes’ rights if Gov. Larry Hogan signs the bill into law. Many states are considering name, image and likeness legislation in 2021.
National Collegiate Athletic Association officials have publicized their likely approval of student athletes receiving payment for their names and images. However, the NCAA has delayed the anticipated vote, awaiting more study of the plausible complications with the antitrust division of the Department of Defense.
“It’s important for the General Assembly to demonstrate to athletes who attend our schools already and to potential student-athletes that we believe they should retain their rights to their name, image and likeness,” said Del. Brooke Lierman, a Baltimore democrat who sponsored the House bill. “Would I like to see the NCAA and the federal government step up and do the right thing? Absolutely. But am I willing to wait for them to do the right thing for our student-athletes? Absolutely not.”
The NCAA prefers one federal policy because multiple state laws can result in confusion and can even serve as recruiting tools for different colleges.
Julie Sommer, an attorney with the Drake Group for Academic Integrity in College Sport, said the NCAA should seek an injunction in specific states to avoid an uneven playing field. “It will be a mess if they don’t … We won’t have a federal bill by [July 1] so if we have a few states that are in effect by then I don’t see how the NCAA could reasonably exercise oversight,” she said.
NCAA President Mark Emmert recently told the Associated Press, “we certainly want to make sure that we can be ready for implementation of those kinds of rules by the time we get to the fall.”
The Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act blocks any interference from state universities and other institutions, such as the NCAA, that could prevent student athletes receiving compensation for their name, image and likeness.
As of date, athletes can hire representatives to negotiate deals on their behalf, but cannot participate in personal advertising for a sponsor during official and mandatory team activities without the college athletic department’s approval. Athletes also cannot use a university's name, trademark or logo for profit, while universities cannot pay athletes for their NIL rights.
The NIL legislative components would take effect in July 2023.
Lierman said, “It gives time for the federal government to act, to create a uniform nation policy if they’re going to, but it doesn’t give them too much time. They need to act expediently, because we are not willing to wait forever for the federal government and NCAA to do the right thing.”