Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed the Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act into law. Beginning in 2023, the Act authorizes student athletes at Maryland colleges and universities to receive compensation for their name, image, and likeness (NIL) and retain agent representation without penalty to the student athlete’s eligibility or participation in intercollegiate competition.

Student athletes are required to disclose any NIL contract in which they enter to their school. A student athlete’s NIL contract cannot conflict with the school’s athletic program contracts. Schools are not required to disclose conflicting provisions of its contracts. Student athletes are also prohibited from using their school’s name and logos to market the student athlete’s individual NIL rights.

Named after former University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair,

the Act also requires Maryland schools to adopt safety guidelines for serious sports-related and preexisting health conditions.

In 2018, McNair collapsed after an offseason workout and died soon after. McNair’s death led to investigations into the University of Maryland and its athletic program. Unlike the delayed implementation of its NIL provisions, the Act’s safety requirements go into effect July 1, 2021.

Although introduced to be fully effective this year, the Act was amended to delay its NIL provisions until 2023 after the University System of Maryland Board of Regents raised concerns about the Act’s potential conflict with proposed rule changes by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and federal legislation. Maryland is home to fifty-five institutions that compete at various NCAA divisions.

After failing to pass NIL legislation in prior legislative sessions, Maryland joins nine other states that have enacted NIL laws during this legislative cycle including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Six other states, California, Florida, Colorado, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Michigan, previously enacted NIL provisions.

Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas have NIL legislation still making its way through each state’s legislative process, with Missouri’s bill approved and sent to Governor Mike Parson on May 14. A number of other states have had NIL legislation introduced. To date, almost one-third of all schools competing in the NCAA will permit its student athletes to receive NIL compensation. At least five states authorize NIL compensation beginning July 1 of this year.

Jackson Lewis’ Sports Industry Group will continue to monitor the ongoing name, image, and likeness issues on the federal and state level, as well as the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Alston case. 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.