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State Rep. Hatcher introduces bill to allow student athletes to profit off of their image

State Representative Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery) has introduced a bill that would allow college athletes to be paid for the use of their image, likeness and name while enrolled at any university in Alabama. This paves the way for student-athletes to receive compensation for endorsing products on social media, making public appearances, having their likeness used in video games and many other potential types of revenue.

Under Hatcher’s proposal, all student-athletes would have the choice to seek compensation for their name, image and likeness (NIL) while enrolled or choose to receive payment from a school funded annuity upon graduating.

“After all, we know many student-athletes, frankly, help generate millions of dollars for athletic programs across the country. This legislation will ensure all student-athletes will get a financial reward for playing college sports,” said Hatcher in a statement.

In Hatcher’s legislation, athletes would be able to hire representation to help them manage their monetary offers. A working group would be formed to recommend how HBCUs, which often lack lucrative television contracts, could best implement NIL policies.

Schools would still be prohibited from compensating student-athletes directly while enrolled, outside of scholarships and stipends already in existence.

Universities would also be required to put on financial literacy and life skills workshops for college athletes.

The NCAA, college sports’ governing body, moved in January to delay a vote on permitting college athletes to profit from their NIL, citing “a series of judicial, political and governmental enforcement events,” that the body felt made it imprudent to go ahead with such a notable policy change.

The delay put on ice a movement that had been gaining speed, especially an announcement in April 2020 that appeared at the time to be paving the way towards allowing compensation of student-athletes by third parties.

If enacted, Hatcher’s NIL bill would serve a purpose similar to legislation enacted in Florida, California and Colorado that have all approved NIL compensation for students at universities in their states.

Florida’s law is set to take effect in July 2021, potentially putting it in direct conflict with the NCAA’s bylaws if the NCAA does not decide in the next six months.

Observers have noted that while prominent football and men’s basketball players would be the most likely to receive financial opportunities for their NIL, it is likely that gymnasts and female athletes with large social media followings would also have numerous opportunities to make money under the law if changed.

California and Colorado’s NIL laws are not set to take effect until 2023, the same year Alabama’s NIL law would be enacted if Hatcher’s bill makes it through the legislative process.

Hatcher’s proposal of an annuity, however, would be the first of its kind. The current text of Hatcher’s bill would require every college, community college and university in the state to deposit money annually — up to $10,000 — into an annuity for each student-athlete that opts not to seek compensation for their NIL.

The annuity would apply to every athlete of both genders in all sports. Upon graduation, students would receive the entirety of the annuity the institution created on their behalf.

Theoretically, a university in Alabama could deposit $10,000 in the annuity for every year a student played, for a total of $40,000 the student would receive upon graduation.

The full text of Hatcher’s bill, HB150, can be read here. The legislation has been referred to the House Ways and Means Education Committee.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.