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Oklahoma Legislature overrides Gov. Kevin Stitt's veto of NIL bill

On3 imageby:Andy Wittry05/25/23


On Thursday, the day before the adjournment of the first session of the 59th Oklahoma Legislature, the Senate and House of Representatives overrode Gov. Kevin Stitt’s veto of Senate Bill 840, which amends the state’s Student Athlete Name, Image and Likeness Rights Act. Stitt vetoed the bill on April 26, two days after he received it.

He vetoed 23 additional bills at the time so his motivations weren’t NIL-related, based on a statement he released.

On Thursday, the Oklahoma Senate overrode the veto with a 37-8 vote. The Oklahoma House of Representatives did the same with an 83-7 vote.

For the Oklahoma Legislature to override a veto on emergency measures, three-fourths of each house must vote to override the veto. An emergency measure takes effect immediately after it’s passed.

The law will provide institutions in Oklahoma protection from potential NCAA enforcement regarding NIL activities. It says a college athletic association and its members shall not entertain a complaint, open an investigation or take any other adverse action against an institution for engaging in any NIL activity that’s protected by law.

The amendment also removed a prohibition of “an entity whose purpose includes supporting or benefitting the postsecondary institution or its athletic programs” from providing professional representation for, compensating or causing compensation for a current or prospective athlete.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s statement after he vetoed more than 20 bills

After Stitt vetoed the two dozen bills, he released a statement.

“Oklahomans elected me to advocate on their behalf and fight for the taxpayer,” Stitt said in the statement. “I take this responsibility seriously. So, I cannot, in good faith, allow another year to go by without cutting taxes and reforming education, both of which we can absolutely afford with our $1.2 billion surplus and over $6 billion in savings.

“Therefore, until the people of Oklahoma have a tax cut, until every teacher in the state gets the pay raise they deserve until parents get a tax credit to send their child to the school of their choice, I am vetoing this unrelated policy and will continue to veto any and all legislation authored by Senators who have not stood with the people of Oklahoma and supported this plan.”

Another round of aggressive state NIL bills

Oklahoma is one of a handful of states whose legislators have proposed, if not passed, bills designed to prevent the NCAA from opening investigations into NIL activities the bill protects, such as third-party entities that support an institution or its athletic programs providing compensation to athletes.

Lawmakers in Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Texas has sponsored or passed these types of bills.

NIL entities in Arkansas and Texas have opened the door for compensation models that have a closer connection to the school. In February, Texas A&M announced the 12th Man Foundation created the 12th Man+ Fund to provide NIL opportunities.

When On3 asked Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork if he thought other schools would pursue a similar model, he said, ““I believe we’ll see it. Yes, I do. I heard from several colleagues last week, asking questions.”

The model at Arkansas is similar but the connection to the university isn’t quite as close. Razorback Foundation Executive Director and General Counsel Scott Varady is listed as the registered agent of ONEArkansas NIL.

Bjork defended the 12th Man+ Fund after its launch.

“You had a lot of attorneys at the university, obviously on the 12th Man Foundation side, analyze it from kind of those lenses,” he told On3. “State law, NCAA, university, governance, and decided that the entity was safeguarded from any university oversight.

“They’re not doing NIL on our behalf. That’s a very, very important distinction and so everything just kind of aligned to create this structure.”