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Ky Gov. Beshear issues executive order on name, image, likeness

Make it about basketball and stuff gets done in this state.

Oral Roberts v Florida Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

With July 1 rapidly approaching, several states having NIL laws set to go into effect, and the NCAA still having zero plan on how to handle this, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced an executive order Thursday that will require colleges in the state to allow their student-athletes to make money while still in school.

“Today’s step was done in cooperation with all of our public universities as well as leadership of both parties,” Beshear said in a statement. “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. For any individual athlete, their name, image and likeness are their own and no one else’s.”

You want anything to get done in this state? Make it about college athletics. If you could convince politicians that not having legal weed or sports betting was somehow putting UK basketball at a disadvantage, we’d have both by the end of next week.

The athletic directors for both U of L and UK applauded Beshear in statements released shortly after the announcement of the EO.

“On behalf of our student athletes at the University of Louisville, we are incredibly grateful for Gov. Beshear’s executive order allowing them to earn compensation based on their name, image and likeness,” said U of L AD Vince Tyra. “Bringing the state of Kentucky into competitive balance with other states across the country and, more specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference is critical. The collaboration with legislative leadership in Frankfort is welcome and needed in leveling the playing field for our institutions and, more important, for our student athletes.”

“Today’s executive order from the Governor provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness (NIL),” said UK AD Mitch Barnhart. “We are appreciative of that support as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted. The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago. What won’t change is our core and most important principle – the well-being and development of our student athletes, while they are at UK and, as importantly, in preparing them for success in life, on whatever path they choose. We are extremely well-positioned to help our student athletes navigate this new and complex terrain. Much of what we need to do to support students in terms of NIL – through The Kentucky Road initiative – has been in place for some time. We have a strong foundation, which we will now work to build on.”

The men’s and women’s basketball coaches and football coaches at both U of L and UK also released statements in support of Beshear, who becomes the first U.S. governor to enact name, image and likeness reform through an executive order.

Gabe Wiznitzer for Andy’s TV: Coming to your local television channels very soon.

In all seriousness, this is a very good thing that needed to be done, and it’s comforting to see that — even though we can’t do anything normally in this state — it got accomplished.