Michigan House approves name, image, likeness plan for college athletes

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Michigan has taken another step closer to adopting name, image and likeness legislation for college athletes.

A bipartisan plan introduced in the Michigan state House by Democrat Joe Tate and Republican Brandt Iden, House Bills 5217 and 5218, easily passed in the state House on Wednesday in lopsided votes. The bills now move to the Senate.

Iden, who played tennis for Kalamazoo College, introduced House Bill 5217 which “prohibits preventing a student athlete from receiving compensation for the use of his or her name, likeness, or reputation." That passed, 94-13. Tate, who was a three-year starting offensive lineman at Michigan State and a co-captain in 2003, introduced House Bill 5218 which “repeals criminal and civil provisions related to prohibited conduct of an athletic agent.” That passed, 95-12.

From left, Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit, and Rep. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo Township, are pushing legislation that would allow college athletes to benefit from the use of their names, images or likenesses.

“This is all about treating all students fairly — including our student-athletes,” Iden said in a statement Wednesday. “This long overdue reform will ensure they have the ability to go out and promote themselves — using their likeness or image — to make a few extra dollars, just like their classmates are allowed to do. This is a change that should have made years ago nationwide, but Michigan simply cannot wait on the NCAA to get its act together any longer.”

In Michigan, this law would allow student-athletes to receive compensation from a third party in exchange for use of their name, imagine or likeness. This currently is banned by the NCAA. But last month the NCAA proposed its NIL plan, which, if passed next January, will go into effect at the start of the 2021-22 academic year.

"I am proud to have worked with Rep. Iden on this bipartisan legislation to allow student-athletes to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness (NIL)," Tate said in an email to The Detroit News on Wednesday. "At the end of the day this issue has been one of fairness. While the NCAA’s actions on crafting NIL rules leave me optimistic that all stakeholders will work together on finding the right solution, we wanted to ensure student-athletes in Michigan will be in a good position.”

States like California and Colorado already have passed NIL legislation, and Michigan is moving in that direction. The Michigan legislation is similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act signed into California law last October. The law, scheduled to go into effect in 2023, allows college athletes in California to hire agents and be compensated for endorsements.

More: Michigan lawmakers push 'fairness' bills for college athletes as NCAA feels heat

The Michigan legislation will allow student-athletes to market their abilities and receive compensation regardless of NCAA division or sport. The goal is December 2021 for the law to be in place.

“This is no different than a student who participates in band at a college or university performing in a separate band on the weekend, charging a cover and making a little money from their talent,” Iden said. “Student-athletes should have the same opportunities — regardless of which sport they play or which college they attend.”

The bill package also allows agents to enter into contracts with student-athletes. That currently is considered a crime in Michigan.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, appearing on WTKA-AM 1050 last month, said he is in favor of NIL legislation, as is Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh.

“Sometimes the doom and gloom gets a bit much,” Manuel said when asked about NIL measures. “We adapt, we move on. I also think that’s the right thing to do. Obviously, we need to put some protections in there for the institution, for the student-athlete, quite frankly. There were already things we were giving the green light (for) using their name and I’ve always said, and I know Jim feels the same way, I’ve never said, ‘Hey, we own someone’s name, image and their likeness.’ That’s just not in our DNA and not the way we think.

“But we also need to make sure that certain protections of the university marks that there are certain protections that guide and allow the student-athletes to be students (and) protect the academic and athletic experience, so this doesn’t take away from that. For the most part, I think it will be great. We’ll have some work to do to educate, to understand. We’ll have to monitor closely and make sure that things are in the right place. In the general sense, I think this is good. It takes away some of the rules that were in place and allows them to be considered just like any other student would have the opportunity to do things with their own name, image and likeness.”


Twitter: @chengelis