Kathy Hochul Signs Legislation to Allow Student-Athletes to Receive Compensation

            On Monday, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation that allows New York college athletes to receive compensation for their name, image, and likeness without the risk of forfeiting their scholarships or eligibility to participate in college sports. “Our collegiate student athletes are heroes on the field – and they deserve to be treated like heroes even after the final whistle,” Governor Hochul said. “For too long, collegiate student athletes have not been able to benefit from the extraordinary benefits their hard work has provided to their schools. I’m proud to sign this legislation that will help New York’s collegiate student-athletes earn the recognition they deserve [1].”

            More specifically, this legislation prohibits the NCAA and other collegiate athletic conferences from passing any rules preventing student-athletes from earning compensation because of the use of their name, image, and likeness. This legislation also prevents colleges from paying their student-athletes directly and allows them to be represented by attorneys or agents licensed in New York. Finally, the legislation requires colleges participating in NCAA Division I to provide student-athletes services such as assistance in degree completion, financial and mental health counseling, discrimination and harassment training, career development assistance, and leadership training [2].

            This legislation is key to allowing students to share in the economic benefits that their play on the field or the court brings to their universities. Their athletic accomplishments have long gone underappreciated and under-compensated as the NCAA reported that the total revenue generated by athletic departments in 2019 totaled almost $19 billion and among that revenue, over $2 billion came from ticket sales.

            Assembly Member Michaelle C. Solages was especially excited about the passing of this legislation, stressing that this is particularly beneficial for those who probably would not have made it to college without their athletic prowess and were struggling day to day to make ends meet. Solages said, “Today, we stand with student-athletes, former student-athletes, their families, and legislators in taking a giant step in the right direction for our student-athletes. Many athletes, some of whom would not have had the resources to attend college if it weren’t for their athletic prowess, come from traditionally marginalized communities where making ends meet is a day-to-day concern. The opportunity to afford the cost of living outside of what scholarships offer will be a game changer for many student-athletes and their families. It is our hope that DI colleges will continue to look out for the best interests of student-athletes by establishing savings plans for students, as well as a fund for financially distressed student-athletes, as our bill suggests [3].”

            This law will take effect on January 1, 2023 [4]. This is a great step for student-athletes who have been under-compensated for far too long, and by allowing these athletes to make money while still pursuing a degree, they are less likely to make a risky move like dropping out in pursuit of a professional league contract. It is refreshing to see colleges and universities as well as the government looking out for the best interests of these student-athletes who have long worked so hard to receive hardly anything in return.

  1. https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-signs-legislation-allow-collegiate-student-athletes-receive-compensation
  2. id.
  3. https://solagesny.com/nil/
  4. https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S5891
  5. Photo: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/06/30/sports/ncaa-nil-rules-change/
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I am a third year law student at the University at Buffalo. I wish to pursue either personal injury or sports law in my career after law school.

One thought on “Kathy Hochul Signs Legislation to Allow Student-Athletes to Receive Compensation

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  1. Although the support is limited to Division I schools, it does create a number of questions that will have to be answered over time.

    Does the law apply to student athletes at the United States Military Academy or does the Supremacy Clause exempt the USMA from compliance?

    What happens at Schools like RPI, Union Clarkson and St, Lawrence that play Division I ice hockey but are Division III for all other sports? Can they deny the extra support for student athletes in the non-Division I sports?

    It looks like that students at Division II and Division III schools can sell their NIL as well, but are not entitled to the extra support required at Division I schools. Also the same question that apply for the USMA would also apply for the Merchant Marine Academy as well. For all of SUNY schools the Governor should step up and make sure that those student athletes get the support mandated at Division I schools.

    From reading law it looks like there was not much consulting with people who actually understand the structure of college athletics.

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