Student-athletes at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University and other Texas schools can now earn money with their name, image and likeness effective Thursday.
Gov. Greg Abbott signed the landmark bill into law on June 14 and joined 25 other states that have passed similar legislation. Fifteen of those state's laws go into effect today.
The bill applies to athletes at all public, private and independent institutions. Sports information directors at the University of Texas declined to comment on the matter.
The landmark law is considered by many to be the first of many steps leading to collegiate athlete compensation, but don't expect any of the Longhorns to be riding around in burnt orange Lamborghinis anytime soon. For many athletes, including Texas State volleyball player Janell Fitzgerald, it just means that they can use their fan support on and off the court to promote their name brand. She'd been asking about using her name several times before and is tuned in to news about student-athlete rights.
"As a student-athlete, we should be able to promote just like other people do," Fitzgerald told Austonia. "We put in the same work, on and off the court and we should be able to use our platform to help ourselves and others."
Without a hint of nervousness, Fitzgerald said she told Texas Congressmen why she wanted the bill: With over 100,000 followers on TikTok and counting, Fitzgerald thought it only fair that she can profit off of her name's growing recognition.
On Thursday, I laid out SB 1385 in the Higher Education Committee which will allow students to earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness.
Thanks to Janell Fitzgerald of the @txst Women's Volleyball team for sharing her perspective with the committee! #TXlegepic.twitter.com/8hWm96TWt4
— Jim Murphy (@JimMurphy133) May 8, 2021
So, what exactly does the bill allow Fitzgerald and other student-athletes in the Austin metro to do?
New school rules
According to the legislation, institutions cannot "adopt or enforce a policy, requirement, standard or limitation that prohibits or otherwise prevents a student-athlete participating in an intercollegiate athletic program at the institution from earning compensation for the use of the student athlete's name, image or likeness."
Additionally, institutions cannot stop student-athletes from obtaining professional representation, including "representation by an athlete agent or attorney, for contracts or other legal matters relating to the use of the student athlete's name image or likeness."
More player rights—with limits
The legislature wanted to ensure that this new law was not abused.
Effectively, schools may choose or choose to not sign for the rights to a player's name, image and likeness if the contract with the athlete violates the school's honor code, team contract or part of the institutional contract.
And you won't see any of the Longhorns or Bobcats advertising for tobacco, e-cigarette, anabolic steroids, casino gambling, a firearm the student-athlete cannot legally purchase or sexually-oriented business—all of those Wild West-esque sponsorships are strictly prohibited by the law.
What about autographs?
Yes! Student-athletes in Texas can make money from selling their own autographs in a "manner that does not otherwise conflict with a provision of this section."
University of Texas athletes interact with fans during Juneteenth celebrations. (Longhorn Athletics/Twitter)
Student-athletes hit the books
According to the bill, all institutions that the bill applies to must require student-athletes to attend a financial literacy and life skills workshop at the beginning of the student's first and third academic years at the institution.
Is the NCAA's concept of "amateurism" dead?
While salaried collegiate athletes are far from reality, there has been a shift in student-athlete rights in recent years.
Though the Supreme Court has never addressed potential pay, they did rule that schools should pay for education-related benefits including laptop computers and paid internships. As Justice Brett Kavanaugh put it in the unanimous ruling, "The NCAA is not above the law."
Because of both the NIL law and recent shifts in ideas, Fitzgerald said she's going to continue to tune in to the topic of student athlete rights, especially as her team continues to advance to the NCAA Championship Tournament and gain more recognition.
"I liked being a part of the legislative process, it was super special to me," Fitzgerald said. "I've been following more about what's going on since."
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With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."