Home New Virginia law will allow colleges, universities to directly pay student-athletes via NIL
Politics, Sports

New Virginia law will allow colleges, universities to directly pay student-athletes via NIL

Chris Graham
college basketball money NIL
(© zimmytws – stock.adobe.com)

An under-the-radar bill drafted by a UVA Athletics administrator that will allow colleges and universities in Virginia to directly pay student-athletes via NIL deals was signed into law on Thursday.

The new law, which takes effect on July 1, is the first of its kind in the nation, and if other states don’t come on board with their own similar legislation, it would give schools including UVA, Virginia Tech, Liberty and JMU a marked recruiting advantage.

“We’ve obviously done our due diligence and worked really, really hard for a number of years to try and position UVA to continue to thrive in an environment that’s chaotic and difficult and challenging,” UVA Athletics Director Carla Williams said Thursday at a signing event that included Gov. Glenn Youngkin and representatives of several state school athletics departments.

UVA, which ranked first in the ACC and 14th nationally in revenues in fiscal-year 2022, according to a USA Today database, raking in $161.9 million, would seem to be in the best position to be able to take advantage of the new law.

A key feature of the new law, drafted by Jason Baum, the deputy director for legal and regulatory affairs at UVA Athletics, would bar the NCAA from punishing member schools in Virginia from compensating student-athletes for their NIL rights.

Another key to the law: student-athletes would not be considered employees of their schools.

The NCAA has been desperately fighting any push toward having student-athletes treated as employees, which would then also require the extension of workplace protections and employee benefits.

In effect, student-athletes receiving NIL money are treated as independent contractors.

Williams, speaking at today’s signing event, said this was “maybe a distinction without a difference, but there’s a distinction there.”

You can expect the NCAA to want to take action as soon as possible to level the playing field between now and July 1. NCAA President Charlie Baker, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, rolled out a proposal last year to allow schools to pay student-athletes directly via NIL deals, but the organization’s governing body hasn’t taken action on the proposal.

Williams indicated Thursday that UVA welcomes the NCAA moving toward “a federal or national solution for college athletics.”

“Until then, we have an obligation to ensure we maintain an elite athletics program at UVA,” Williams said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].