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Governor Wolf, Penn State Athletes Meet To Support Pennsylvania’s New NIL Laws

Governor Tom Wolf traveled to Beaver Stadium Monday morning to celebrate Pennsylvania’s recently established law allowing student-athletes to profit from the use of their names, images, and likenesses (NIL).

High up in the stadium’s club level, Wolf, some politicians, and a dozen Nittany Lions athletes praised the new policies, which should provide entrepreneurial opportunities for student-athletes at Penn State and across the country.

“For too long, college athletes were barred from earning compensation for endorsements, forced to allow other entities to profit off of their successes in order to continue playing the sports they love,” Wolf said. “Now, our athletes will no longer be forced to choose between receiving fair compensation and continuing to play.”

Student-athletes can’t literally get paid to play sports, but they’re now able to work with advertisers and sponsors to capitalize on their fame, status, and clout. Now, for example, you can buy Sean Clifford t-shirts or enter raffles to win Roman Bravo-Young’s match-worn shoes.

Wolf said Pennsylvania’s recently adopted legislation, on top of the NCAA’s policy change, should open the door for student-athletes to launch professional endeavors off the field.

“[The NIL legislation] will also help ensure that Pennsylvania colleges and universities remain competitive and attractive,” Wolf said. “It will give top athletes a guarantee that they will be treated fairly here in Pennsylvania.”

Wolf chats with Penn State President Eric Barron (left).

Although he spent the day in Happy Valley, Wolf emphasized that the new policy is a product of work from all of Pennsylvania. As such, other state politicians like Senator Jake Corman and Ed Gainey, the future mayor of Pittsburgh, touted the NIL legislation, too.

Gainey said NIL laws give student-athletes a much-needed opportunity to gain professional experience.

“When we talk about the development of our student-athletes, we should celebrate this as a success because we’re teaching them not only entrepreneurial skills but how to take care of their careers right here where they’re supposed to take care of them — in college,” Gainey said.

Penn State women’s basketball forward Anna Camden is one of many athletes who’s already inked a few deals, including a sponsorship with Cameo. On Monday, she said the opportunities afforded by NIL legislation wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of previous generations of college athletes.

“I want to thank the athletes who came before me and fought for the right to use their name, image, and likeness,” she said. “It is because of all of these people that we are fortunate enough to stand here today in a new era of college sports.”

Lady Lions star Anna Camden spoke at the event.

Camden, as well as football wide receiver Jahan Dotson, said she’s excited to work with Penn State Athletics’ new “STATEment” program, which aims to help student-athletes learn about brand-building, social media responsibility, financial literacy, media training, and more.

Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour said her department will work with student-athletes to develop their business acumen and navigate the NIL landscape properly.

“The word we are using at Penn State…is ‘entrepreneurial.’ The opportunity to engage in entrepreneurial activities works in the exact same way that any student on this campus has — that any student on this campus now has,” Barbour said. “Student-athletes did not have the right before. It’s what’s right, and we’re excited to see all they will do with this opportunity.”

To date, more than 25 states have already legalized their own NIL policies, all backed by the NCAA’s overarching legislation change, too.

Although the opportunities seem endless, there are limits to NIL compensation. Athletes can’t use the intellectual property of their schools (like the Nittany Lion logo) for their own brands. Additionally, they can’t strike deals with companies dealing in tobacco, adult entertainment, gambling, and other vices. Schools could also prevent NIL-related endeavors if they “conflict with institutional values,” but they can’t prevent athletes from earning money entirely.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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