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Kentucky colleges, universities preparing student-athletes for NIL changes

Beshear signed an executive order allowing student-athletes in Kentucky to receive compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Universities and colleges in Kentucky are preparing for a new landscape of college athletics where student-athletes will be allowed to earn money off their name, image and likeness.

An executive order signed by Gov. Andy Beshear is set to take effect July 1.

"This is going to be trial and error," UofL athletic director Vince Tyra said. "There's going to be things that occur. We're going to read about things, maybe mistakes and some opportunities that occur."

"Yesterday was the first day," Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said. "It sort of gave us the ability to move forward with policies and procedures, and I think the journey is a long one."

Beshear is the first governor to sign an executive order allowing student-athletes to receive compensation for their name, image and likeness. The governor said the decision was done in cooperation with public universities and leadership from both parties, who will be working on legislation next year.

"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," Beshear said. "For any individual athlete, their name, image and likeness are their own and no one else's."

"With the executive order in Kentucky, it does level the playing field," Tyra said. "I think it's something our student-athletes and frankly prospective student-athletes on recruiting visits are inquiring about."

Both UofL and UK have already started offering student-athletes classes and other forms of guidance in preparation of possible opportunities to profit off their name, image and likeness. They are also working with them on how to follow proper procedures when it comes to these opportunities, like the disclosure process.

"We want to be able to protect all 500 student-athletes in this process," Barnhart said. "That's important. And so we want to make sure that is a part of our conversation."

Nineteen other states have passed NIL laws within the past year. Athletes who attend school in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas would be able to start accepting endorsement deals starting July 1.

Several current student-athletes have expressed support for the changes.

"I think we 100% should," University of Louisville linebacker CJ Avery said. "Each athlete, they put in so much work so they should be rewarded for it. That's just how I feel about it. I think it's a good thing."

"It would be great for athletes like that to not have to make a decision between getting the college experience and making money off of their name and accomplishments," Stanford swimmer and Sacred Heart alumnus Brooke Forde said.

Both Tyra and Barnhart admit there is still a lot left to learn as they await guidance from the NCAA and potential future federal legislation, they understand college athletics will likely never be the same.

"Do I think it's possible that I pull into one of the sports complexes in my F-150 and park next to somebody in a Mercedes?" Tyra said. "Yeah."

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