Athletes Lawyer

Keeping You In The Game

New Georgia law legalizes pay to college athletes, but…

| May 14, 2021 | Current Events |

Georgia became one of the first states to enact laws that allow college athletes to earn income from endorsements and sponsorships. However, the law signed by Governor Brian Kemp also entitles the schools to take a 75% cut of that money if they choose. In other words, the Georgia athlete will be able to get money by selling rights to their name, image and likeness, but the college will have substantial control over the money earned.

How would it work?

The schools would then put the money in a pool to distributed among the school’s athletes when they graduate or leave school. So college football or basketball players may get a $100,000 contract for some deal, but they will only get $25,000 while the rest goes to fellow athletes. They also would get paid once they leave school, where they as athletic stars would hypothetically get drafted and paid as other major sports athletes, which is millions for even mid-level role players. So they are only paid once they do not need the money.

A really bad idea

Despite the bill getting signed at Georgia University’s athletic facilities, it’s a sure bet that Georgia and Georgia Tech look at the new bill as an additional challenge to recruiting elite-level athletes. Schools in California (which has a law on the books) or other states will be able to tell the football running back or basketball center that they can keep 100% of their endorsement money and receive it whenever the check is cut.

Critics have also been quick to point out that only the athletes must share the profits among the student-athletes. The schools, on the other hand, get to keep the billions of dollars in television deals, merchandising and revenue streams directly tied to the athletes’ work on the field of play.

Federal laws still pending

The NCAA has been dragging its heels on this issue for years, and now it is officially punting by requesting that there be federal laws governing athlete endorsements. This approach would avoid a patchwork of state laws and keep the endorsement playing field even for recruiting. However, there are no federal laws imminent, which means that this issue will get drawn out further. The NCAA will not even vote on official rule changes on endorsements until January 2022.