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Missouri becomes latest state to overhaul NIL legislation, give collectives more power

Jeremy Crabtree06/16/22
(Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire)

Missouri has joined the ever-growing list of states with revamped NIL legislation.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed amended Senate Bill 718 Thursday morning. The bill allows schools to have a more active role in NIL activities. The amendment was introduced on the House floor in mid-March and passed through both chambers. Parson signed the bill in a ceremony at the capitol in Jefferson City, Mo.

The new law allows coaches and school personnel to “identify or otherwise assist with opportunities for a student-athlete to earn compensation from a third party for the use of the student athlete’s name, image, likeness rights, or athletic reputation.”

The Show-Me State becomes the latest state – especially in the Southeast recruiting footprint – that’s overhauled NIL laws to empower collectives to have a significant impact on high school recruiting, player retention and target in the Transfer Portal. The new Missouri law takes effect Aug. 28.

A school-specific collective is made up of deep-pocketed fans and alumni. They are run independently of the school they are affiliated with. They work by pooling funds from a wide swath of donors and businesses to create NIL activities for a school’s student-athletes.

Athletic leaders at the University of Missouri said they fully support the new law.

“Mizzou Athletics appreciates the continued work of our state lawmakers supporting student-athletes all across Missouri and we look forward to the NIL amendment heading to the governor’s desk,” Tigers athletic director Desireé Reed-Francois said.

Other states have recently adjusted NIL laws

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed new NIL legislation on Wednesday. The Bayou State’s law mirrors Missouri’s in many ways. While the bill allows schools, their affiliates and boosters to compensate student-athletes for use of their NIL, the revision allows coaches and school personnel in Louisiana to also facilitate deals for its student-athletes. The law became effective this past Friday.

Recently, Tennessee took center stage in the nationwide discussion about NIL with its revamped law in April. Mississippi also recently tweaked its NIL law. An amended NIL bill was recently passed in Illinois. Furthermore, the South Carolina state Senate passed its 2022-2023 budget. Inside the budget, it includes a section that takes its NIL law off the books for the fiscal year.

“The SEC is arguably the most competitive football conference with the most diehard fans in the country,” Dan Greene, a NIL expert and associate attorney at Newman & Lickstein, said earlier this month. “Many of those diehards are now state lawmakers in that territory. They have realized that they have to do whatever they can to keep their football programs competitive, which means making necessary changes to their respective NIL laws.”

Missouri altered law to stay competitive

Additionally, Missouri legislators said they introduced the amendment in direct response to similar legislation passed in Tennessee. Consequently, Missouri State Rep. Wes Rogers said the new legislation allows coaches to “basically barter on behalf of athletes.”

“This is the Wild West, we really need federal legislation,” Rogers told the Kansas City Star. “But, until there is federal legislation, we’re going to make sure we’ve got the best legislative landscape possible.”

Rep. Kurtis Gregory, a former three-star recruit out of Alma, Mo., who played for the Tigers, introduced the amendment.

“I was like, ‘Oh, sounds like we need to build the same size bomb,’ so to speak,” Gregory told PowerMizzou.com. “Because in my opinion, NIL is the new facilities race, stadiums race. It’s the arms war of college athletics.”

“Just being able to give our Missouri institutions a competitive advantage, or at least stay on par with other schools, is just vital to keeping successful sports programs. Because if you’re not going to have a successful, specifically football and men’s basketball, but every team on down the line, then the economic impact of not having 80,000 people every weekend in Columbia or filling the Chaifetz Center over at SLU or any place where an athletic event is played, then you’re not maximizing the economic impact of the universities.”

Missouri is believed to have two collectives – Advancing Missouri Athletes and DBZou22 – representing the school. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Advancing Missouri Athletes hired former Tigers basketball player Laurence Bowers as executive director to recruit donors and promote the fund. 

While other collectives around the SEC and the rest of the country have aggressively pushed forward with their programs, the Mizzou group is still growing its base and getting organized under Bowers’ leadership.

Missouri NIL law wouldn’t allow ‘pay-for-play’

Missouri’s new law prohibits “pay-for-play” payment arrangements between schools and student-athletes. For example, the new law stipulates athletic department employees cannot serve as agents for student-athletes or attempt to influence their choice of representation. They are also prohibited from being present at meetings between student-athletes and third parties or receiving compensation for facilitating NIL deals.

Coaches and NCAA leaders say NIL disguises “pay-for-play” deals choreographed by collectives. They say groups are using money to persuade recruits before they sign binding letters of intent. Per NCAA rules, boosters are not allowed to pay players directly or be part of the recruiting process.

The NCAA issued guidance recently aimed at limiting the impact of boosters who are using NIL ventures to lure top high-school recruits and target players in the transfer portal. Many observers say the guidance wasn’t a significant step forward and will only continue the pay-for-play chaos.

The law also requires schools to conduct a financial development workshop once a year for student-athletes.