Executive order signed to allow Kentucky athletes to benefit from NIL


The Wildcats lead the Gamecocks at the start of the second half of the UK vs. University of South Carolina men’s basketball game on Saturday, March 6, 2021, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 92-64. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Barkley Truax

University of Kentucky athletes can profit from their celebrity starting July 1st. 

Kentucky’s Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday to allow Division One collegiate athletes across the state to be able to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) beginning next week.

With the law, Kentucky athletes can now sign endorsement and sponsorship deals, sign with an agent, have internships, get a job while in college, be compensated from their social media influence and many other ways to benefit on top of their scholarship.

“Today’s step was done in cooperation with all of our public universities as well as leadership of both parties,” said Gov. Beshear after signing the executive order Thursday at the Capitol. “This action ensures we are not at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting, and also that our student athletes have the same rights and opportunities as those in other states. For any individual athlete, their name, image and likeness are their own and no one else’s.”

The historic order comes just a few days before states such as Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico have their laws come into effect at the beginning of next month, with dozens of other state’s laws also coming into effect very soon. 

“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),” said University of Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. “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.”

On Wednesday, NCAA President Mark Emmert said that temporary rules will be put into effect as a national guideline to “fairly allow student-athletes to take advantage of NIL opportunities regardless of the state in which they are enrolled.”, as reported by The Athletic.

Universities across the state have been directed to provide education and other resources to assist students with financial literacy, time management and social media and brand management and will retain the flexibility to reasonably limit the time, dates and associations from which the student-athlete may earn compensation.