Ohio State AD Gene Smith backs NIL legislation to 'protect student athletes and bring order to NIL'

Colin Gay
The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith is backing national name, Image and Likeness legislation.

In a statement by Ohio Republican Congressman Mike Carey and Ohio Democratic Congressman Greg Landsman, Smith put his support behind the Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act, a bipartisan bill that creates "one federal standard for Name, Image, Likeness in college sports."

“I’m pleased that student-athletes now have the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness," Smith said in his statement. "At Ohio State, our NIL programming assists student-athletes as they capitalize on their hard work, generate income for necessary expenses, and learn marketing and financial literacy skills. However, NIL laws and regulations remain inconsistent from state to state. Representative Carey’s work to bring forth consistent, national NIL regulations will further protect student athletes and bring order to NIL policies and procedures nationwide. On behalf of Ohio State, I want to thank Representative Carey for this significant and important legislation.” 

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The Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act would "protect the college recruiting process, and bring transparency to the NIL landscape," Carey said in a statement, granting student athletes the "right to capitalize off their own name, image, likeness, while preserving the integrity of college sports for current and future college athletes."

The bill would prohibit universities from restricting student athletes from entering into NIL deals, protects the recruiting process by prohibiting inducements and ensure that student athletes are not considered employees of the universities they play for.

Dec 13, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, United States;  Ohio State University Athletic Director Gene Smith listens to coach Ryan Day during a news conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch

The act would also establish a Covered Athlete Organization Commission that would consist of current and former student athletes, administrators, athletic directors, coaches and professionals that are experts in sports marketing, contracting and public relations, to make recommendations to Congress and athletic organizations on implementation of name, image and likeness rules, while establishing an independent dispute resolution process for disputes between a student athlete and athletic organization or school.

Also, the bill states that the Federal Trade Commission would require athletes to disclose each endorsement contract that values more than $500.

In May 2022, Smith called the implementation of NIL in the NCAA "the Wild, Wild West."

“We are leaderless as we move to whatever we're going to move to, and we need to move to something," Smith said. "Those of us who have been in it a while need to begin to speak up. We need to begin to try and galvanize people around something.”

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