Mar 1, 2024 - News

Utah poised to enact bill to make student athlete NIL deals private

A varsity jacket with a dollar sign printed on it.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Utah is poised to enact legislation that would exempt student athletes' name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals from Utah's public records law.

Why it matters: NIL deals are a lucrative business, with college athletes collectively earning nearly $1 billion in the first year of the new rules, per Inside Higher Ed.

Driving the news: HB 202 received final passage in the Senate Friday in a 21-7 vote on the last day of Utah's legislative session.

What we're hearing: In an interview with Axios hours before sine die, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said he intended to sign the bill.

  • Keeping those contracts public "would put us at a competitive disadvantage where most states do not require the release of the terms of these agreements," he said, referring to student athletes who may choose to compete in a state where those deals are not disclosed.

Context: The NCAA approved an interim policy in 2021 allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.

  • At least 32 states have passed measures regulating NIL, according to a legislation tracker.

Catch up quick: The State Records Committee last year ordered the release of NIL contracts after Deseret News requested the information from the state's five public universities under the Utah Government Records and Management Act.

  • The schools refused to supply the records and filed an appeal in court to challenge the committee's decision, arguing the contracts are not public under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • David Reymann, an attorney representing the newspaper, asserted NIL contracts don't pertain to students' academic or disciplinary records.

What they're saying: "College sports is big business, and the public has a strong interest in how it's being administered to public institutions," Reymann told Axios.

Between the lines: The measure would bar athletes from entering sponsorship deals to promote tobacco and e-cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, firearms the athlete cannot purchase legally, a sexually oriented business and certain controlled substances, including steroids, antibiotics and marijuana.

  • Athletes would be required to submit contracts exceeding $600 in value to their public institution.

What's next: If signed by Cox, the bill will take effect May 1.

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