DeWine signs executive order on college athlete profiting rights, bypassing transgender ban

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine took the issue of allowing college athletes in Ohio to profit off their name, image and likeness into his own hands.

DeWine signed an executive order on the issue Monday after efforts at the Statehouse last week to pass it into law by July 1 became entangled with a ban on transgender athletes.

DeWine said that with 17 states having passed similar laws that Ohio could not afford to fall behind.

“Athletes will naturally want to go to college in states where they can earn money and remain eligible to play,” DeWine said. “Without setting these rules, Ohio’s college athletic programs would be at a severe disadvantage.”

States have been looking at legislating profiting rights for college athletes with federal regulations and NCAA guidelines unavailable.

Ohio State officials, including athletic director Gene Smith and football coach Ryan Day, testified in favor of Ohio’s bill, sponsored by State Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), looking to prevent other states from being able to gain an edge in recruiting athletes.

Ohio’s bill passed the Senate unanimously last week, but during debate in the House, a clause to have the legislation enacted by July 1 was removed and an amendment from Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) banning transgender girls from competing in girls sports was added, making the bill a partisan issue and prompting Democrats and even some Republicans to vote against it.

Once the bill passed the House with the transgender ban in place, Senators responded by adding the profiting-rights language to an unrelated House bill, setting up the issue to be discussed during reconciliation.

DeWine issued a statement Friday saying that rules on transgender athletes is best handled outside of government and on Monday announced his executive order on the matter.

At the signing, DeWine said that the order would allow student-athletes to get professional representation and sign endorsement deals without fear of being punished. They must notify their school of any deals, and they are prohibited from endorsing controlled substances or casinos.

Later Monday, Antani announced that the wording of the original bill was added to state budget, allowing it to go into effect July 1. With Monday night’s passage of the budget, the NIL provision will go into effect Thursday provided DeWine signs the budget.

“As I have continually said, I was going to do everything and anything to get this done,” Antani said in a press release Monday night. “I am thankful that this is finally going to the Governor’s desk so college athletes can have their name, image, and likeness rights in law.”

The NCAA is reportedly expected to issue guidelines this week that would honor state laws and extend similar rights to athletes in other states.

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