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Ky. endorsement ruling hits home for local student-athletes, sports agents

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Posted at 6:50 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 22:00:21-04

Former athletes with local ties call the latest move to pay for endorsement deals a win.

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.

Former Cincinnati Bengals player Tim McGee said when he was in college at the University of Tennessee in the 1980s, he went hungry some nights.

“We had to eat prior to six o'clock. Once six o’clock was over, that's it. You didn't have any money, and me being from inner city, we didn't have the disposable income to provide extra money to myself and my sister," he said. "Where you knew the university was making all this money. And it just, it was just so, so, so unfair, and everyone knew it.”

Kentucky is the first in the Tri-State to enact the NIL rule. However, 19 states have passed similar legislation to allow compensation for student athletes.

Monday, the U.S. Supreme court issued a ruling that ended the NCAA limits on education-related benefits. In the past, the NCAA said its rules were in place, in part, to keep the sports amateur.

Attorney and sports agent Patrick McCarthey said the benefits will come into play for student-athletes in the form of commercials and business endorsements.

“You're going to see the super star quarterback get a car dealer, you’re going to see the All-American center get a grocery store,” he said.

He says Kentucky schools now have this as a recruiting tool. However, as other states follow suit, bigger universities could lose out to larger cities with more businesses.

For years, the NCAA has been developing a plan to allow students to accept endorsement deals with limits.

“The average fan goes, 'Well, he’s getting a free education," McGee said. "Well, you know, I always wanted someone to break down the number of hours and the hourly rate I’m getting deprived. And where else in America, the United States of America, can you give labor and get no compensation in return?”

Northern Kentucky University assistant athletic director Bryan McEldowney wrote:

"We are excited our Norse student-athletes will have the opportunity to generate revenue under Governor Beshear’s executive order based on their name, image and likeness. Today’s executive order creates a level playing field for our student-athletes and Northern Kentucky University with our peers – both in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as well as those in the Horizon League located in states which have laws in place. We have been actively preparing for NIL reform and will be ready to educate and prepare our student-athletes according to the dynamics of the executive order."

“We've been doing this a long time in terms of preparing our young people for the new world as they leave Kentucky," University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart told reporters Thursday. "Now, we've just fast tracked it so they're going to get a bigger idea of what it looks like while they're at Kentucky. I think it’s certainly a changing landscape.”