College athletes question how they can be paid under Michigan’s new law

NCAA policies remain unclear for what types of payments are permissible
Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 7:09 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - College athletes in Michigan will soon be able to be paid based off their name, image or likeness for the first time.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the historic legislation Wednesday. But the new law is raising more questions than answers from athletes about how they can be paid.

“This isn’t really a surprise because it’s been in the works for a little bit now, and I don’t know whether it’s going to be a good or a bad thing. I think time will tell,” said Jake Lee, who runs cross country and track for the University of Michigan.

The newly signed legislation allows for players from any sport to use agents to earn money from their own image, name or likeness. Lee’s concerns are with the NCAA.

“They’ve been harping on this idea of amateurism for decades and you can’t make money off your name, image, and likeness -- and all of a sudden reversing that,” he said.

The legislation also prohibits athletes from entering into apparel contracts that conflict with contracts with their respective schools. Athletes must also disclose any contracts to schools before signing.

But for Lee, the new laws seem to raise more questions than answers.

“The NCAA needs to do a really good job of clarifying what can be some sort of financial compensation,” he said. “Like, can a donor give you a car and say you should come to U of M? Like, is that crossing the line? Where is the line going to be drawn?”

In signing the bills, Whitmer called on the NCAA to set national standards for financial compensation soon. Michigan’s law won’t take effect until December 2022, so athletes will have to wait a couple years for their payday.

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