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Two Ohio bills take aim at new rules for college athletes

Tony Pike
Posted at 9:22 PM, Jun 25, 2021

Two Ohio bills aim to create new rules around rights for student-athletes, from determining whether student-athletes can profit off a league or team's use of their name, image and likeness to allowing schools to ban transgender women and girls from sports programs.

Currently, Ohio lawmakers are debating two different bills: Senate Bill 187 and House Bill 29.

The Senate bill passed with bipartisan support, but when it went to the House, a Republican lawmaker added a last-minute amendment: The Save Women's Sports Act. This amendment is now the center of some controversy in Columbus. It would allow schools to ban transgender women and girls from playing women's sports.

Democratic representatives called it "one of the most extreme political attacks on transgender people in the nation."

On the other hand, there's House Bill 29, which was supposed to be a bill expanding Ohio veterans identification cards. The Senate added amendments about sports betting and the new rules allowing college athletes to be paid for use of their likeness.

"I continue to strongly pursue legislation to ensure student athletes receive, in law, their rights to their own name, image and likeness by the July 1st deadline," said Niraj Antani, a state senator who sponsored the original Senate bill.

In Kentucky,starting July 1, Kentucky will allow companies to pay student-athletes to use their name, image or likeness. Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order enacting the change Thursday.

Despite the controversy in Columbus, the bills could have a large impact on the future of sports for college students and those younger.

"Growing up in Cincinnati," said Tony Pike, former University of Cincinnati quarterback,"seeing things like my jersey in the bookstore was more of a dream come true at the time. That's something I grew up with as a kid, going and getting those jerseys."

The former Bearcat signal-caller said he also remembers the long hours spent at the gym, studying, the mandatory check-ins and practices that left him with no time for a part-time job, or any extra money.

"School is great, but you're still trying to live outside of that," he said. "You want to go out for dinner with friends. You want to do nice stuff for yourself or your family. This will allow that stuff to finally happen."

Pike said he believes student-athletes should be able to make money through endorsements, autographs and social media advertisements using their image.

"This is something I can see happening very fast," he said. "And I already see it with student athletes now. I follow athletes in college on social media. They're putting stuff out there. When this passes, if it passes, if you want me to represent your brand somehow, send me a direct message. Get in touch with this person. To me, the ball is already rolling."