Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signature on House Bill 5217 and House Bill 5218 will allow Michigan student-athletes to earn financial compensation from the use of their name, image, and likeness and authorize the hiring and use of attorneys and agents without affecting student-athlete scholarship eligibility.

Michigan now joins California, Florida, New Jersey Colorado, and Nebraska as the sixth state to pass a law protecting the rights of student-athletes to be paid for the commercial use of their name, image, and likeness rights. As with every state name, image and likeness law that has been enacted to date, except the Florida law which will become effective on July 1, 2021, the Michigan law will also have a significantly delayed effective date. The Michigan law will not become effective until December 31, 2022.

Senator Whitmer commented on the new law, “For years we have all enjoyed the incredible talent of young athletes across the state. This legislation will change the lives of young men and women for years to come.” She concluded, “I am hopeful that the NCAA will set a national standard so that all players across the country are afforded the same opportunities.”

Sponsored by State Representative Brandt Iden, a former college tennis player at Kalamazoo College,

House Bill 5217 specifically prohibits post-secondary educational institutions as well as any athletic association, including the NCAA, from enforcing any rules that limit or prohibit student-athletes from profiting from endorsement or promotional agreements.

In addition, the bill protects student-athletes and their ability to play intercollegiate sports and continue to earn athletic scholarships while earning fees for the use of their name, image and likeness.

House Bill 5218, sponsored by State Representative Joe Tate, a former offensive lineman at Michigan State, and signed by Governor Whitmer along with House Bill 5217, specifically repeals a section of the Michigan penal law which prohibits sports agents from inducing student-athletes from entering into contracts while they still have remaining eligibility to participate in college athletics.

While granting the student-athletes the right to profit from the use of their name, image, and likeness and to hire agents to assist in the identification and negotiation of these endorsement opportunities, the Michigan law places certain limitations and obligations upon student-athletes. Prior to entering into any endorsement agreement, the student-athlete must disclose the proposed opportunity to a university-designated official at least seven (7) days prior to committing to the opportunity or contract.

In addition, student-athlete endorsers will be prohibited from entering into an apparel contract and earning compensation if that contract or promotional relationship would be in conflict with any provision of their post-secondary school’s existing apparel contract.

One other limitation placed upon Michigan student-athletes restricts the use of the name, trademarks, service marks, logos, symbols, or other intellectual property of their university in conjunction with the student-athletes use of their name, image or likeness.

Jackson Lewis’ Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group will continue to monitor the ongoing name, image, and likeness issues on the federal and state level, as well as the NCAA’s anticipated passing of final rules on name, and likeness later this month. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group with questions.

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Photo of Gregg E. Clifton Gregg E. Clifton

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in…

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. Mr. Clifton has also worked extensively in the area of agent regulation and enforcement in professional and college sports and regularly provides counsel on issues relating to NCAA and NAIA amateurism issues and athlete eligibility questions. He has also served as an expert witness in matters involving sports agents’ work and responsibilities, as well as athlete compensation issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Team Sports for Gaylord Sports Management. He also served as President of the Athlete and Entertainment Division for famed sports attorney Bob Woolf’s firm, Woolf Associates, in Boston.

Mr. Clifton began his career as an Associate at Jackson Lewis where he focused his practice on traditional labor law. He continues to counsel clients in the areas of collective bargaining negotiations, representation cases, arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board matters.

Mr. Clifton frequently serves as an expert speaker to law schools, including Harvard University, Boston College, Hofstra University and Arizona State University, and bar associations regarding sports law issues, including agent regulation and salary arbitration. He is also often cited as an expert source in national news media for his commentary and opinion on legal issues in sports.