Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation Thursday allowing student athletes at Georgia colleges, universities and technical colleges to receive compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, came as schools and the NCAA reckon with a growing push to permit certain kinds of financial benefits for college athletes who are often the focus of lucrative advertising campaigns and video games.
Kemp, a University of Georgia (UGA) alumnus and advocate, said the new allowances on athlete compensation should help give the state a competitive edge in attracting talented players and students from within Georgia and beyond.
“I believe it sets Georgia on the path to accomplish something that quite honestly should have been done a long time ago,” Kemp said during a bill-signing ceremony at UGA Thursday.
“Thanks to [the bill], student athletes from across the country will have Georgia on their mind when they’re looking for a campus and a university that can give them a world-class education but also the chance to compete at the highest levels of college athletics.”
Under the bill, college athletes in Georgia will be required to take five hours of a financial literacy and life skills workshop to ready them for the added burdens of receiving compensation for sports performance.
Schools will also have the ability to require that student athletes pool their compensation and deposit the earnings in an escrow account, from which they cannot withdraw funds until at least one year after they graduate or leave school.
Additionally, the bill bars schools from offering cash or other incentives to high-school recruits and requires sports agents seeking to represent college athletes to obtain the same type of license needed to represent professional athletes.
The new pay rules take effect on July 1 and will remain in place until either mid-2025 or until Congress passes federal legislation allowing for nationwide college-athlete compensation. Several bills have already been introduced in Congress on athlete pay.
So far, the NCAA has largely resisted moves to permit compensation for student athletes, prompting several lawsuits challenging the organization’s authority to block student athletes from being paid despite also profiting from their skills.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments March 31 in a landmark case from California brought by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston, who sued the NCAA and several college leagues in 2014 for not allowing compensation to pay for costs beyond what his scholarship covered. The court has not yet issued a ruling in the case.
This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.