AUSTIN, Texas — College athletics have become a money-making machine. Yet, college athletes have never been able to make any money – that is, until Thursday.
The Texas Name, Image and Likeness Bill, SB 1385, is set to take effect, which will allow student-athletes in the state to profit off their name, image and likeness.
The NCAA has also approved student-athletes in states without such legislation to do the same, as long as they follow the guidelines set forth by their institution.
College athletes can do things such as appear in advertisements, partner with companies on social media, monetize autographs and host youth camps – all of which were once NCAA violations, but are now fair game.
It won't allow student-athletes to get a piece of the pie their athletic departments are making, but will instead allow them to sell their own pie.
It has UT staff like Daron Roberts, founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation, and Joel Lulla, an adjunct professor at the UT School of Law, excited about the possibilities for both the stars on the field and the stars on social media.
“The top-tier athletes, the future top draft picks, those athletes will get the best deals, and they’ll have deals which will be on a national level,” Roberts said.
“You’re not going to become rich; you’re not going to retire, but when you’re a student and you got the opportunity to make a few thousand dollars, that’s a big deal for your lifestyle,” Lulla said.
An easy lifestyle is something former Texas running back Kirk Johnson said he didn't have.
“My rent in Austin was about $1,200. [I couldn't] really take a girl on a date because I didn’t have money,” he said.
Because SB 1385 wasn't in effect while he was a college, Johnson's 40,000 YouTube subscribers couldn't earn him any cash.
“People were hitting me up, ‘Hey dude, $600 for this, $600 for that.’ I had to say no,” he said.
“Here’s someone who built a brand away from the game of football while he was a student-athlete at the University of Texas, but he can’t take ads or sponsorship deals because of his status as a student-athlete,” Roberts added.
But the next Kirk Johnson can, and Thursday's historic day for college athletics is the reason why.