College athletes’ NIL rights come to one of the most conservative states in the country.
Within the marble halls of the Mississippi State Capitol, the topic of college football is never far away.
Home to two of the SEC’s plucky underdogs, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, legislators here are always striving to make up ground on neighboring states that have more historic football powerhouses. In fact, last summer, lawmakers replaced their state flag after the NCAA and SEC banned the Rebels and Bulldogs from hosting athletic championship events in a state whose flag brandished the Confederate battle symbol.
Nine months later, another piece of college sports-themed legislation is working its way through this building. This time, a bill that would grant Mississippi college athletes rights to earn income from their name, image and likeness (NIL).
Reluctant though they may be, these legislators know what’s up.
“I don’t think any state is happy about this legislation, but we’re seeing this as a necessity,” says C. Scott Bounds, a Republican member of the Mississippi House of Representatives who’s helping oversee the bill’s journey through the state’s legislative process. “We don’t want to lose a competitive edge in recruiting, both athletically and academically, especially against those in the Southeastern Conference.”
You can almost hear Junior lobbying them.
The NCAA has done nothing concrete. Congress has bigger fish to fry. The states are marching ahead.
Moores has been working on the legislation since California passed its groundbreaking NIL law in 2019, a bill that sparked this wave of historic change. For the last several months, he’s been refining the bill’s language with help from Ramogi Huma, the president of the National College Players Association. Huma, one of the most outspoken NCAA critics, has assisted multiple state governments in creating universal language for their NIL laws, crafting them to avoid NCAA litigation.
“In NIL, the primary powers are going to be the states,” says Huma. “At the end of the day, schools are going to have to comply with their state laws.”
Like nature, recruiting abhors a vacuum.