What does the NCAA’s decision on the name and likeness controversy mean for upcoming legislation in Georgia?

On Oct. 29, the NCAA reversed its stance prohibiting student-athletes from profiting off their names and likenesses. During a meeting at Emory University in Atlanta, the NCAA Board of Governors unanimously voted to change its rules and allow its student-athletes to begin profiting off themselves by 2021.

The decision was a surprising one, to say the least, as the organization had spent weeks prior speaking out against states that intended to and, in California’s case, did pass legislation to allow collegiate athletes to begin profiting off their names and likenesses beginning in the year 2023.

For Georgia State Rep. Billy Mitchell, who announced a week prior to the NCAA’s Board of Governors meeting that he intended to propose legislation on the issue in January, the decision was great to see. 

“I am surprised that they acted so quickly,” Mitchell said. “I am grateful that they addressed [the issue] and even further grateful that they recognized my bill, in part, as one of the reasons why they felt they needed to address it.”

Mitchell’s bill, similar to that of California state Sen. Nancy Skinner’s, would seek to allow collegiate athletes not only to profit off their names and likenesses starting in the year 2023, but also have legal access to agents, who could help the athletes draw up sponsorship and business deals.

“To allow [athletes] to be able to earn some money while they are in school is only reasonable,” Mitchell said.

So, what does the NCAA’s decision mean for Mitchell’s legislation?

“My bill, like California and many of the other states, was not going to happen, if enacted, until 2023,” Mitchell said. “I promised many of the members on the committee with the NCAA that [the decision] renders our bill unnecessary now.”

As a result, Mitchell no longer has plans to introduce his legislation when the House reconvenes in 2020.  

This does not mean the legislation is dead, however. While the immediate timeline remains unclear, legislators like Mitchell will continue to monitor the NCAA to ensure that the promise is kept. 

“Certainly, we are going to hold on to the legislation,” Mitchell said. “And if the [NCAA] does not address it as timely as they stated that they would, we can always submit it.”

Mitchell said he has faith in the NCAA to keep good on its word, as it makes sense for the organization to establish nationwide regulations, instead of having to oversee different-looking sets of laws in any of the 50 states that may have passed laws of their own.   

According to a press release from the NCAA, “the working group will continue to gather feedback through April on how best to respond to the state and federal legislative environment and to refine its recommendations on the principles and regulatory framework.”