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NIL collectives could soon have more impact in Louisiana, Missouri

Jeremy Crabtree05/13/22
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More states with teams in the SEC are moving toward removing the prohibition of schools from directly or indirectly arranging for a third party to provide compensation to a student-athlete through NIL.

According to the Louisiana State Legislature, Sen. Patrick Connick authored a bill that would allow schools, their affiliates and boosters to compensate student-athletes for use of their NIL. The proposal moved out of the House Education Committee Wednesday. It is one step closer to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk.

Missouri is also on the verge of amending its NIL bill. The amendment would allow schools to have a more active role in NIL activities. The amendment was introduced on the House floor Thursday and passed through both chambers. It now waits for Gov. Mike Parson‘s signature.

The amendment 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.”

Other states – especially in the Southeast recruiting footprint – have amended NIL laws that empower collectives’ to have a significant impact on high school recruiting.

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.

Recently, Tennessee took center stage in the nationwide discussion about NIL. Mississippi also recently tweaked its NIL law. An amended NIL bill is waiting for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to review in Illinois. Furthermore, the South Carolina state Senate passed its 2022-2023 budget. Inside the budget, it includes a section that would take its NIL law off the books for the fiscal year.

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

The bill in Louisiana would prohibit “pay-for-play” payment arrangements between schools and student-athletes, Connick told the Louisiana Illuminator.

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 on Monday 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 Louisiana bill was also amended in committee to include that NIL contracts between companies and student-athletes that are shared with the school shall remain private and confidential. Additionally, the legislation would also allow colleges and universities to directly pay prospective collegiate athletes. The Louisiana High School Athletic Association recently voted to allow high school students to profit off their NIL. The bill moves to the House floor for a full vote. It will move to the governor’s desk if passed.

Louisiana joins a handful of other state high school athletic associations — AlaskaCaliforniaKansasNebraskaNew JerseyNew York and Utah —  that allow student-athletes to participate in NIL without jeopardizing their eligibility.

Moreover, Connick said the change would put Louisiana’s NIL laws “in line with the other states that are doing this.”

“The SEC is arguably the most competitive football conference with the most diehard fans in the country,” said Dan Greene, a NIL expert and associate attorney at Newman & Lickstein in Syracuse, N.Y. “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. Alabama started this movement by repealing its law in February. Then came Tennessee and Mississippi amending its laws last month. Now South Carolina, Louisiana, and Missouri are on the cusp of following this trend. Perhaps we’ll see Florida reconsider this issue at some point.”

Missouri athletic department supports new NIL law

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

“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.

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.