NH House Passes College Athlete Compensation Bill

Last week, the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved HB 1505 which permits college athletes to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Twenty-eight states introduced similar legislation led by California's Fair Pay to Play Act passed in 2019. We have examined the NIL issue relative to New Hampshire and the country. HB 1505 has been slightly amended since its first introduction. Most notably, the effective date, originally 60 days after passage, has been extended almost 2 years to July, 2022.

The NCAA's public support for the issue has slowly eroded under scrutiny from many, including the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation earlier this month. On the national stage, NCAA President Mark Emmert faced sharp criticism from Senators, especially Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) who asserted the current NCAA NIL policy was as antiquated as leather football helmets. Senators ended the hearing offering their support while informing the NCAA the issue remained inappropriate for current Senate action. Emmert told Senators the NCAA had no written proposal, but promised one by April.

Interestingly, last week, the NCAA made a surprise announcement to permit first-time transferring athletes to be immediately eligible to compete at their new school. The change surprised coaches and administrators, leading many to believe it is merely a concession to Senate and public scrutiny on NIL. In recent years, immediate transfers of elite players such as Justin Fields to Ohio State have been permitted, while many lesser-known players have sat out a year under the previous transfer rules. Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association and others are skeptical with good reason.

The transfer change is far less a financial risk to the NCAA than NIL changes. This is because the content producer, the player, remains under the NCAA umbrella. With NIL, players have direct negotiating power. The profits lost by the NCAA will correlate to how far any federal NIL legislation strays from the status quo.

Categories: Sports Law