OSU's Cardale Jones, Ryan Day back fast-moving Ohio bill on name, image and likeness
COLUMBUS – Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones said the decision to stay in college or leave for the NFL would have been easier if he could have benefited financially from his own name, image and likeness.
"I think it would have definitely impacted my decision on leaving school early or staying for an extra year," said Jones, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 and completed his college degree in 2017.
Jones is best known as the third-string player who helped his team win the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship in 2015, defeating Alabama along the way. That three-game streak gave Jones acclaim that could have benefited from financially, but NCAA rules and state law at the time would have forbidden it.
Now, Jones and Ohio State's top athletic leaders back a proposal to allow students to profit off their name, image and likeness. Ohio has lagged behind other states in legalizing the option for college students to appear in advertisements or sell signed paraphernalia.
"This bill can change the lives of current and future student-athletes and their families," Jones said.
After years of delay, Ohio's Senate Bill 187 to legalize NIL is sailing through the GOP-controlled Legislature, unanimously passing the Senate last week. The Ohio House of Representatives could pass the proposal as soon as this week, sending it to Gov. Mike DeWine.
One reason for the speedy work is pressure. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA's limits on education-related benefits, such as study abroad, paid internships and academic awards with cash prizes. Six states, including Alabama and Georgia, have already enacted laws that take effect on July 1.
Ohio State will be at a recruiting disadvantage if Ohio doesn't pass its own law, football coach Ryan Day said.
"If state legislation is not enacted, higher education institutions in Ohio will struggle to attract student-athletes who now can capitalize on their name, image and likeness elsewhere, including that state up north," Day said of the disadvantage. "It would be something that would leave a mark for a long time and something that would be hard to come back from."
Both Day and athletic director Gene Smith would prefer a national solution to avoid a patchwork of different rules, but neither the NCAA nor Congress has moved expeditiously. The NCAA Division I Council could approve rules as soon as next week, but Congress is unlikely to act before July 1.
“The NCAA has done a poor job at addressing this issue," said Smith, who led an NCAA working group reviewing guidelines for name, image and likeness. “The reality is the old rules were put in place to try and mitigate improper recruiting techniques. Modernizing intercollegiate athletics is like moving a ship in the ocean. It’s a nightmare.”
Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said Congress isn't moving much quicker.
“We waited and we waited and we waited and we are still waiting,” Antani said. “There just doesn’t seem to be consensus.”
How would the Ohio NIL bill work?
Under the proposed changes, student-athletes could earn money from their name, image or likeness and hire agents to capitalize on their fame. There are some exceptions: Students couldn't promote alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, adult entertainment or casinos.
Athletes must inform their universities about NIL contracts, but school officials can't veto them. There is one exception: Students on a team with a Nike endorsement could not wear Adidas during a game, but they could during a weekend sports camp.
Universities, conferences and athletic associations couldn't penalize students for benefitting from NIL. Contracts would not be public records.
The proposed changes would not affect high school athletes.
Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.