Connecticut lawmakers have passed a bill that would allow college athletes at state universities to use their school's name and logo in endorsement deals.
It still needs the signature of Gov. Ned Lamont, whose office said Monday that he supports the concept of the legislation but will have to read through it before deciding whether to make it law.
UConn had asked for the bill, which updates last year’s state law that allows athletes to make money by marketing their name, image and likeness.
As a result of that law, athletes in Connecticut - led by UConn women's basketball star Paige Bueckers - have been able to sign deals for products such as clothing lines and sports drinks, but have not been allowed to use the school's name in those endorsements.
UConn executive associate athletic director Neal Eskin testified that the current law, which also prohibits athletes from using the UConn logo, mascot or other institutional marks, puts the Huskies at a recruiting disadvantage.
“None of us want to inhibit the ability of our outstanding coaches to recruit talented student-athletes to UConn,” he said in March. “In order to compete at the highest level, we must make certain that student-athletes who choose to enroll in college in Connecticut have the same opportunities as those at schools in other states.”
Connecticut and several other states passed laws last year to make it legal for athletes to make money off endorsement deals as of last July 1. Proposed federal legislation to regulate NIL subsequently stalled, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of athletes’ rights to be compensated.
The NCAA never found a way to put the new business model under its umbrella before the state laws went into effect, leading to different rules in different states.
Other states have made similar changes to what Connecticut did this session - or repealed NIL laws entirely to eliminate restrictions on athletes making money from their name, image and likeness.
“If I were to advise state legislatures, I would tell them to repeal all state NIL laws," Blake Lawrence, whose company Opendorse, helps schools and athletes navigate the NIL landscape, told the AP in March. “The deed was done when the NCAA changed their rules and student athletes are compensated handsomely and anything states have in place is unnecessarily restrictive.”
The new Connecticut bill also would require the UConn Board of Trustees and the Board of Regents for Higher Education to each submit a report to lawmakers by January on the fiscal impact of the athletes’ endorsement contracts, employment activities and use of their institutional marks.