Gov. Wolf speaks at PSU, allowing college athletes to profit from their name

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — Governor Tom Wolf is visiting Penn State University in Centre County to talk about the bill he signed into law, allowing Pennsylvania college athletes to profit from their name and likeness.

The governor was joined by student athletes including speakers Anna Camden and Jahan Dotson, President Eric Barron, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour, Senator Jake Corman, and Representative Ed Gainey.

“Pennsylvania is home to many outstanding student athletes who devote countless hours of their time, effort, and passion to achievement both in the classroom and on the field,” said. Gov. Wolf. “This new chapter for athletes across Pennsylvania will allow collegiate athletes to finally earn compensation for endorsements without sacrifice to the sport they have dedicated much of their lives to play.”

Act 26 of 2021 amends the Public School Code to allow athletes at Pennsylvania colleges to earn money from endorsements, such as sponsorships and appearances, and still be allowed to compete. Act 26 does not allow student athletes to receive payment for playing a sport or athletic achievement; rather, Pennsylvania’s new law provides student athletes with an opportunity to benefit financially from their NIL.

The NCAA’s decision to suspend restrictions on payments to athletes for things such as sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances applies to all three divisions or some 460,000 athletes.

The NCAA also is allowing athletes to enter into agreements with agents while encouraging them to keep schools informed. The NCAA said schools are responsible “for determining whether those activities are consistent with state law.”

“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level.”

More than 10 states have laws set to go into effect Thursday that would have undercut existing NCAA rules regarding such compensation for athletes, including Pennsylvania.

Gov. Wolf signed Senate Bill 381 to allow Penn State athletes and other collegiate athletes in Pa. to earn compensation from their name, image and likeness. Although, compensation exchange for athletes attending an institution or their participation is not allowed.

“We are excited the lawmakers in Pennsylvania passed a law to allow our students to explore opportunities involving their name, image and likeness. This law will give our students the same opportunities that students in states with NIL laws have to receive payment for the use of their name, image or likeness,” Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics said, in a statement.

Without NCAA action, athletes in some states could be making money without putting their college eligibility in jeopardy while their counterparts in other states could be in danger of breaking NCAA rules.

“We have always focused on preparing our students for a lifetime of impact and this new law will allow our students to grow their entrepreneurial spirit which they will carry with them long beyond their time at Penn State,” Penn State continued.

The NCAA’s stopgap measure comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the association in a case involving education-related benefits. That 9-0 ruling is expected to impact issues related to compensation for athletes.

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