UK athletics reacts to new NIL law


Kentucky sophomore guard Rhyne Howard drives pasta defender during the University of Kentucky vs. Georgia women’s basketball senior night game on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 88-77. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

Thursday afternoon, Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order to allow Division One collegiate athletes the ability to be compensated from their name, image and likeness (NIL).

How does the UK community feel about the new laws?

The coaches/staff’s reactions:

Mitch Barnhart:

“Today’s executive order from the Governor provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness (NIL). We are appreciative of that support as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted. The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago. What won’t change is our core and most important principle – the well-being and development of our student athletes, while they are at UK and, as importantly, in preparing them for success in life, on whatever path they choose. We are extremely well-positioned to help our student athletes navigate this new and complex terrain. Much of what we need to do to support students in terms of NIL – through The Kentucky Road initiative – has been in place for some time. We have a strong foundation, which we will now work to build on.”

John Calipari:

“We are entering into an exciting age in college athletics at the University of Kentucky. We have always put student-athletes first and today’s executive order by Gov. Beshear – who I want to thank for making this a priority – will empower universities across the state to support their young men and women better than ever. Whether we are talking about name, image and likeness, lifetime scholarships, financial literacy, health and wellness, or player welfare, student-athletes have been at the center of every decision at Kentucky. With today’s announcement, we continue to take positive steps forward in supporting our student-athletes to an even greater degree statewide. They deserve our time, effort and resources in making sure they have the opportunities to benefit from the hard work they put into their athletic and educational careers. As we wait on federal legislation, our program will continue to support, elevate and educate our kids.”

Kyra Elzy:

“I appreciate Gov. Beshear stepping up and making student-athletes in the state of Kentucky a priority. The University of Kentucky has been a leader in name, image and likeness. I know our administration will work with the Governor’s office to ensure that student-athletes in Kentucky will continue to take the necessary steps to stay atop of NIL issues.”

Mark Stoops:

“Supporting our student-athletes is at the center of Kentucky Athletics and today’s announcement is another step in that direction. Name, image and likeness issues are at the forefront of college athletics and we appreciate Gov. Beshear helping us address current needs while long-term solutions are being developed on the national level. Our established principles of educational excellence, athletic success and personal development have us well-positioned as the NIL process begins.”

What about the players? 

It seems as though they are being educated on the matter as we speak, as not many UK athlete have spoken up on the matter as of Friday morning. 

One athlete who has spoken about the matter, and someone who will be at the forefront of NIL this season at Kentucky, is Rhyne Howard:

“I’ve been fortunate that UK has been open with me since I first arrived on campus about enhancing my experience and providing me with the necessary content and education to grow my brand,” two-time Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Rhyne Howard said. “On top of media and brand training sessions, we receive digital content constantly before and after games for us to share. They have also developed and sought my input in building and maintaining and the #CrownHer campaign to increase my exposure.”

As the weeks go on and especially as we head into football and basketball season, inevitably more UK athletes will speak on the matter and throw their names out there when it comes to endorsements, sponsorship’s, social media presence, etc. 

Through The Kentucky Road, via UK Athletics, will help student-athletes to be able to not only become financially literate during their collegiate career, but to also allow them the education to benefit them for years to come.

Their benefits are stated as, but not limited to:

  • Providing industry-leading support for leveraging individual social media presence through education, opportunity and data-backed insights.
  • Extended scholarships until a bachelor’s degree is achieved.
  • Financial education.

“We believe steadfastly in the transformative power of the college athletics experience,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “We also believe it is our responsibility to tailor that experience to meet the needs of young people in order to empower them to achieve their dreams. By taking The Kentucky Road for four years, our student-athletes will be given the tools and experiences they need to prepare for the 40 years to follow.”

More reactions:

Several other athletes, mostly football players have posted the same message that you see above.