Business and Labor

Amateur athlete income bill clears first round

Lawmakers gave first-round approval to a bill March 18 that would make changes to state law regarding name, image and likeness income opportunities for student athletes.

Sen. Ben Hansen
Sen. Ben Hansen

LB1393, sponsored by Blair Sen. Ben Hansen on behalf of Gov. Jim Pillen, would update provisions of the Nebraska Student Athlete Name, Image or Likeness Rights Act, known as NIL. Under the bill, universities in Nebraska would be able to assist student athletes with their NIL endorsements through legal support and access to department resources, such as team facilities, equipment, social media and photographers.

The bill defines a NIL activity as one that involves the use of an individual’s name, image or likeness for commercial or promotional purposes. It also would prohibit the details of a student athlete’s NIL agreement from being made public.

Hansen said the measure would take a more proactive approach to enhancing the student athlete experience and would put all educational institutions in the state in a better position to retain and recruit athletes.

“Currently, institutions work with student athletes at an arm’s length capacity that is insufficient for the institutions themselves as well as the companies, fans and the student athletes,” Hansen said. “LB1393 would allow institutions to better utilize their department resources and assist the student athletes with NIL activities.”

LB1393 also would clarify that Nebraska educational institutions could compensate a student athlete for the use of their name, image or likeness if allowed by a college athletic association policy change, court order or settlement agreement. Should such a policy change take place, the bill would clarify that NIL compensation of a student athlete does not inherently make the athlete an employee of the institution.

Bellevue Sen. Carol Blood raised concerns that the bill would prohibit student athletes from entering into NIL agreements for products, services or entities that are not consistent with the educational mission of the institution with which the students are affiliated.

“It’s their likeness and they’re selling who they are,” Blood said. “Why should we be involved with that?”

Senators advanced LB1393 to select file on a vote of 32-0.

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