'Ohio student-athletes cannot be left behind.' Senate passes bill after Ryan Day testimony

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra

A day after Ohio State football coach Ryan Day advocated for it, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would allow college athletes to earn compensation from their name, image and likeness.

The vote was 33-0. SB 187 now will go to the state House of Representatives and if passed there would then need the signature of Gov. Mike DeWine to become law. 

Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) introduced the bill May 24 in a press conference at Ohio State's Covelli Center, accompanied by OSU athletic director Gene Smith.

On Tuesday, Day told state senators on the Workforce and Higher Education committee that quick passage of the bill was important so that programs from other states that have passed NIL legislation wouldn't have a recruiting advantage over Ohio schools. Several states, including Florida, Georgia and Alabama, have passed legislation granting NIL rights to their college athletes, effective July 1.

Head coach Ryan Day talks to the Big Ten Network following the Ohio State Buckeyes football spring game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

NIL:College players advocacy group raises concerns over Ohio's name, image, likeness legislation proposal

When Antani introduced the bill, he said he was confident Ohio would pass its NIL legislation by that date.

"For the benefit of Ohio student-athletes in all NCAA divisions," Day said, "the state needs to enact a measure allowing student-athletes within our borders to benefit in the same manner as athletes in other parts of the country.

"Our athletes should, and under this proposal will be able to receive financial benefits from the name image or likeness, without jeopardizing their amateur and/or student-athlete status. If the legislation is not enacted, higher education institutions in Ohio will likely struggle to attract student-athletes who will suddenly have the opportunity to better capitalize on their name, image likeness at an out-of-state institution."

Most proponents of NIL, including Day, would prefer that the U.S. Congress pass legislation that would establish national rules instead of having states adopt their own in a piecemeal approach. But the passage of federal legislation appears highly unlikely to happen by the end of the month.

"Until that occurs, Ohio student-athletes cannot be left behind," Day said.

Day and the Ohio State football staff is in the middle of an intense four-week period of in-person recruiting, which was put on hold for more than a year because of the pandemic.

"It would really severely damage us in recruiting moving forward," Day said of a scenario in which Ohio doesn't pass NIL legislation. "We're in June right now, and we're having many families and recruits come through.

"For us to be in a situation where they could go to another state, another institution, and have the opportunity to make money off their name, image or likeness, but not do that in the state of Ohio would put us in a severe disadvantage that would have effects for a long time."

Day said NIL is important for players beyond prominent football players. Most sports offer only partial scholarships, and Day said 30% of OSU athletes receive no scholarship money.

"Right now, if there's somebody who has a certain talent and they want to put it on social media or on YouTube, and they want to go make certain money off of their name, their image, or their likeness, even outside of football, they're not allowed to do that," Day said.

Two changes were made to the original bill. A requirement that athletes give their school notification 15 days before accepting an offer was eliminated. Also, if a school's contract with a company that competes would override one that an athlete has endorsed while the athlete is actively participating. In other words, if a player signed with a company that competes against Nike, which has an Ohio State contract, the player couldn't wear non-Nike gear during an official Ohio State team activity.


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