HB 617 and recruiting

“I’m a little biased, but I believe this is going to give coach (Kirby) Smart every bit of help he needs to bring home a national championship.”Brian Kemp

As my readers know, I’m pro-NIL compensation for college athletes as an issue of fundamental fairness.  That being said, while Kemp gave lip service to that consideration at yesterday’s signing (“College football is so big now. The finances are so big. The players have a lot at risk. You’ve got other sports where people can go pro right out of high school. I think this is the right step at the right time in the right direction to try to continue to protect the student-athlete but also give the athletes the benefit of what others are getting across the sports world.”), make no mistake about it, the driving force behind the legislation’s passage was to keep Georgia football from falling behind in recruiting versus programs in states where NIL legislation has already passed.

All you have to do is look at yesterday’s setting where Kemp signed HB 617 to get the message.

All of which begs the question as to why the legislature passed and Kemp signed into law a bill that contains a provision that will surely muddy the message.  I’m referring to the now infamous pooling arrangement.

In English, here’s what we’ve got:

Colleges in the Peach State can elect to require their players (on all of their teams) to share up to 75% of compensation received for the use of their name, image, or likeness—including through endorsements, sponsored business arrangements and influencer deals on social media. The forced “sharing” would occur pursuant to what House Bill 617 terms a “pooling arrangement,” with the shared compensation directed to “a fund for the benefit of individuals previously enrolled as student athletes in the same [college].”

The fund would be fashioned as an escrow account controlled by the athletic director. After they graduate (or after 12 months pass from leaving early), former players could draw pro rata shares of the fund’s pooled contributions “based on the number of months the individual was a student athlete.”

News of the provision swept through social media and regular media like a storm.  Some of the takes were flat out misleading, like this one.

One of the most notable distinctions in HB 617 is that it calls for student-athletes to deposit funds into an escrow account and wait to withdraw until they leave school. The bill also includes a revenue-sharing component, which sponsors say is intended to help curtail team dysfunction, but the provision has drawn criticism since it allows schools to take up to 75% of an athlete’s earnings for redistribution.

But almost as damaging were ones like this Yahoo! Sports header:  “New Georgia law legalizing college athlete endorsements also allows schools to take athletes’ money”.  “Allows” is doing some heavy lifting there, but it’s not an inaccurate description.  And that, I think, is going to pose a problem for Kirby Smart and his staff on the recruiting trail this year.

As McCann notes, the pooling arrangement is unique to Georgia.  What that means is other states with NIL legislation haven’t created a framework that allows their schools to retain most of a player’s earnings and distribute those to other student-athletes.  Which in turn means that coaches in states like Alabama and Florida are about to engage in some serious shit talking with recruits about how, unlike in Georgia, their programs won’t be stealing money from them.

Now, sure, Georgia’s compliance office and Jere Morehead ran away from the pooling arrangement about as fast as they could.  But as long as the law is on the books in its present form, rival coaches can present all the faux concern they like — hey, you never know at Georgia, right? — and that will leave Georgia coaches having to explain the situation.  As the old saying goes, when you’re explaining, you’re losing.

The real puzzle to me is why anyone thought this was a good idea in the first place.  Not only is it a scab that will be picked at endlessly on the recruiting trail, it’s an administrative nightmare for an athletic department to manage.  The school has to manage its players’ contracts, collect the money from a variety of sources, construct a database of all student-athletes who played sports, as well as the time frame for each of them, track the twelve-month period before anyone is eligible for payment and then cut checks.  Beyond that, because the school would insert itself into the payment process, it would have to manage things in a manner that doesn’t run afoul of federal regulations like Title IX, which is why HB 617 requires that schools can’t share or distribute funds in ways that discriminate on the basis of race, gender or other protected demographic traits.

Quite simply, who needs the aggravation?

I can’t figure that out, nor can I figure out why the language was added in the first place.  If you explore the bill’s history in the legislature, it comes out of the House as a fairly anodyne product, without any unique restrictions.  However, once it makes it way to the Senate, that changes.  The pooling arrangement is added to the bill’s language, first with a 50% cap, and then increasing that to 75%, which is how the final version reads.

The Senate amendments were both introduced by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), one of the bill’s sponsors.  Note the area he represents, which raises the question as to what sort of input UGA had behind the language being added.  And why.  The only comment I was able to find from Cowsert about the law yesterday was this:

“I’m actually concerned about the potential for folks to cross the line, going from a supporter to using someone to promote their products and becoming a booster,” Cowsert told Atlanta Business Chronicle. “We have to be very careful that this isn’t used inappropriately by businesses agreeing to essentially pay some for their NIL when they really want to persuade someone to come to the University of Georgia.”

Is the point to the pooling arrangement to lessen the incentive for a booster to cross the line?  I’ve got no idea, but in any case, it doesn’t matter because Georgia has already taken the pooling arrangement off the table.  The kindest thing I can say about the drafting is that it appears to be working at cross-purposes with itself, but I suspect that will be of small comfort to Kirby Smart when he sits down with a recruit.  (Then again, how likely is it that Smart had no idea of the bill’s language before it was signed?)

Maybe I’m reading too much into all this, but it sure seems like an invitation to score some easy negative recruiting points.  We’ll see how it plays out, but from where I sit right now, I expect Georgia hopes for a federal preemption of HB 617 to eliminate the chatter or, in the absence of that, a trip back to the General Assembly next year to amend the law.


UPDATE:  I missed this quote from Cowsert at the end of Weiszer’s piece from yesterday.

Cowsert said of the pooling provision: “It’s not fair for just the skill players to take all the money, otherwise why is somebody going to block for you?”

There you go.  Oy.


Filed under Georgia Football, Political Wankery, Recruiting

99 responses to “HB 617 and recruiting

  1. Ran A

    Now don’t laugh; but I don’t think there is anything to worry about here. completely agree that there was ‘zero’ need to write n the ‘pooling’ part of the law, I do not think it will matter. Reason? The NCAA is going to have no choice but to clean this up for everyone and come out with one standard. As bad as that organization is – and it is BAD…. They are being forced to get this fixed or they will lose complete control of the larger schools, who will begin their own super conference and shut them out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Derek

    Maybe its an escape clause for bad actors to say:

    “I wasn’t bribing the kid to go to UGA, I just thought they was a poolin’ that money, you know, for later!”

    “So you bought him a pool?”

    “Yes, with my company name on the pool floor soes helicopters could see it and what not. Hey man, if’n I read that there law wrong, you know, honest mistake. My bad.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I imagine every kid committed or holding an offer to play a sport at UGA will be getting a communication today that the school does not have and does not plan to have a pooling arrangement for any funds related to NLI.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mddawg

    I’m no legal scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but isn’t “may provide for” the key phrase there? As in, it’s not mandatory.


    • Maybe I didn’t make it clear, but while it’s not mandatory, UGA, for example, could elect to impose it any time it chooses. That’s not to say it will, but I’m confident the fear of that happening will be stoked with negative recruiting.


      • mddawg

        Nah, I think you made it clear enough. I probably just need to slow down and read a little more closely before I scroll down to comment.


      • ericstrattonrushchairmandamngladtomeetyou

        The General Assembly just needs to repeal that part of the bill next session. Fact is they f’ck things up all the time and they know it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Biggen

    As I mentioned yesterday in another comment thread, Off Campus on Sirius XM radio was already bitching and moaning about this 75% deal and how shitty the bill is. Until it becomes common knowledge that UGA doesn’t intend to do that, this will definitively be used as tool for negative recruiting.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Mid-Age Man Coniston

    After this goes into effect, I don’t think the ridiculous addendum will matter much as far as recruiting is concerned. Once our first players receive their compensation, they’ll tell other recruits how it works, and Kirby won’t have to explain much more. Kids listen to other kids, so, as long as we don’t screw it up, opposing coaches can quack on all they want, but I don’t see it mattering much.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Dave Marler

    Dig a little deeper and I suspect you’ll find that clause was insisted upon by some legislator with a child playing a non-revenue sport who has little chance of benefiting from the law. “If they pool the money then my son or daughter can get a slice of the pie.”


  8. As hard as they try, politicians and schools still can’t give up the notion of ‘we know what’s best for you…let us handle your money’

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Holiday Inn Bagman

    I read the bill to say that UGA can proactively go out and sign a deal that would involve the likeness of players and then give that money to the players. This is distinct and separate from an individual seeking out and signing their own arrangements.


    • 79dawg

      Yes, as I read it the provision only applies to “team contracts” although the General Assembly, in its infinite wisdom and as it often does, fails to define what a “team contract” is and, in this context, I don’t think the term has a common meaning. However, the most reasonable reading of the phrase, IMO, is that the “team” signs a contract to allow a sponsor to use the NIL of all the players, collectively, and then 75% of that money goes in the pool to be shared equally by the players.
      Maybe it is for including a team picture (that has all the players in it) in an ad, or having the in a tv commercial or something? Obviously, it doesn’t not make sense for a sport like football where there are 90+ players, but for other sports with 10-20 participants and particularly where there may not be a well-known “star”, its pretty easy to see how it could be done (for example, imagine all the golfers in a commercial saying they use Titleist balls, or all the gymnasts at a dress shop or something). Just the best guess….


      • Actually, the law does define team contract:

        ‘Team contract’ means any written agreement between a student athlete and a postsecondary educational institution, or a division, department, program, or team thereof, which includes goals and objectives, standards, prohibitions, rules, or expectations applicable to the student athlete.

        It’s between the school and the athlete, not third parties.


      • Holiday Inn Bagman

        I agree that seems to be the intention. The previous paragraph lays out that “team contracts” cannot limit the players use of NIL outside of official activities.


  10. Dawg in Austin

    Just seems like a simple political CYA for multiple parties to say they had a clause in the bill that allowed for schools to protect athletes from financial harm.


  11. charlottedawg

    Wouldn’t this be pretty easy to handle for UGA? All you need to say to a recruit is “yes, there’s a provision in the legislation for pooling of NIL compensation, we have no intention of implementing that as a program”.


    • As I said, when you’re explaining, you’re losing. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • charlottedawg

        Then I guess I just disagree with that assertion. In my line of work, we (and the attorneys we’re working with btw) explain things all the time on behalf of our clients to counterparties we’re trying to transact with, almost always in a competitive environment where said competitors are looking for every angle they can so they are definitely negatively recruiting against us to the same counterparty. There are things that are actual competitive disadvantages and there are things that you can credibly say “Mr counterparty, you’re an intelligent individual, you know my competition is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill so you sign on the dotted line with them instead of us” and then the counterparty says “yeah you’re completely right, he’s full of shit”. This is definitely the latter.


        • Dawg in Austin

          And relationships can almost always overcome stuff like this. The point is that you have to waste time overcoming it when you could be building stronger relationships in the time you have.

          Liked by 1 person

      • tiredofidsearch

        And if I am recruiting for another school I be sure to point out that they have the right to change it at any time.
        All you need to do is plant a little seed and watch it grow…..

        Liked by 1 person

      • timberridgedawg

        Maybe it was unnecessary but it will clear itself up when it kicks in in July and the players are getting 100%. Kirby is going to need to put a tax attorney on staff to keep the IRS from hauling off his players into their portal.

        He should show them a big picture of metro Atlanta and the #7 media market in the nation and say “This is the capital of college football and we run this state!” The rest will take care of itself.

        I think it’s just a slow news day and this was the best they could come up with to stir the pod and unless you’re Tennessee publicity is good as general rule.

        Liked by 1 person

        • 69Dawg

          The IRS is ready to “Service” the SA’s as they will need to report all that money. The fact that it will come in the form 1099-NEC will add another layer of problems for the SA. UGA needs to get a prof from Terry to meet with all the players and explain things or this could get messy real soon. Joe Blow today will not be draft eligible because he still has time to serve on his tax fraud case.


  12. TN Dawg

    If you think of the pooling as a tax designed to take earnings from the wealthiest football players to redistribute wealth to the low-income players to create equity and income-equality, I’m sure you’ll find it more appealing.


    • Why would I find that more appealing?

      Liked by 2 people

      • TN Dawg

        Because that’s how our society operates as a whole.

        The wealthier earners pay taxes to provide services for those that earn little or no income.


        • That’s not an answer to my question.

          Liked by 1 person

          • ronbreakfastfoodswanson

            Isn’t the argument I always see on here that, because the schools and NCAA make lots of money off football, its only “fair” the players should share in this cash revenue? This pooling arrangement seems right up your alley. Its only fair.


            • I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m a free market advocate. So, no, it’s not right up my alley.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Derek

                Until the quarterbacks make such obscene amounts of money relative to unpaid lesser players who are forced to play for free because the nfl wont take them yet and then we let the qb hire out the OL to do odd jobs around his crib (or not). That is a free market, right? You personally can hire the OL now and/or be an employee of the college qb so why can’t the OL have the same freedom to contract?

                (I agree that the fairness argument is bs, but the extension of whats been advocated to this point would extend to any prohibition that one player can’t be an employee of another. Which might initially be frowned upon for any number of reasons until… well, you know.)

                Liked by 1 person

                • Kyler Murray banked a $4.6 million signing bonus while he was playing for Oklahoma. I must have missed all the chaos that ensued from that.

                  Liked by 2 people

                • ronbreakfastfoodswanson

                  Exactly, “free market advocate” until someone makes “too much,” then anything they say or do is “all about the money”. See passive aggressive comments about Josh Brooks, Greg McGarity, college football playoff, etc. I’d love to know exactly what the utopian college football system is so I can know why everything anybody does to try and improve it is “wrong” and “operating a cartel”, etc.
                  Players get NIL rights in Georgia for the first time ever, and all I hear is wah wah wah.


                • That’s a helluva non sequitur you’ve constructed there.


                • Derek

                  Didn’t suggest chaos though you tried to disown any resulting chaos earlier this am.

                  I’m simply saying that we got here because the college football business model became too profitable for its own good and that created an untenable environment under the existing rules. Rules that I still say make complete sense given the ripeness for abuse without them in place. And are certainly rules no one has proposed a workable re-write of that keeps in the “good” $ in and eliminates the “bad” $ out. (If in the remote event there is any bad $, that we were assured would never occur anyway, we know where not to look, amirite?).

                  Any who, if the new rules lead to extremely rich QB’s and “under compensated”, “exploited”, “fill in the blank” independent contractors of football, then the same logic would suggest that Kyler can recruit, hire, employ, fire(?) his OL with his largesse.

                  You wouldn’t restrict their capacities to contract would you?

                  I mean, cuz ‘merica.

                  Liked by 1 person

                • Derek, what I love here is that you construct a world that doesn’t exist and then challenge me to defend it.

                  WTF are “independent contractors of football”? And why would Murray want to do what you suggest?


                • ronbreakfastfoodswanson

                  I can’t believe I agree with Derek, but that’s where we are.


                • Derek

                  Its isn’t the “world” you’re being challenged to defend.

                  Its the logic. Its the foundation. Its the principles.

                  Defend those. Thats all I’m seeking to do.

                  You know, like what Socrates did to piss everyone off and they killed him for it. Btw: I’m not suggesting Socrates was as smart as me so, lets not go there. He didn’t know flying to the moon was possible for example… I am hoping to avoid the hemlock, fwiw.

                  But the point of the hypothetical and the socratic method is to get at the heart of the issue.

                  Do you really think these guys are adults who should be free to do whatever OR did you just really hate that the tv contracts had gotten too big and you went searching for a fix that created more fairness and equity?

                  You address my hypotheticals and we might get to the truth of the matter.

                  Or you can duck, dodge and distract.

                  You know:

                  “We’re done here.”

                  The host’s house hemlock.. 😉

                  Btw: but for the earlier post I’d be less in search of hoistings and petards, but that really annoyed me…in context.

                  At this point I’m more interested in who was right. And I’m open to the idea it wasn’t me. Too early to gloat, complain or point fingers.

                  Lets see what we’ve sowed, with or against our wishes, and come back to it, I say.


                • I honestly don’t understand your argument. Players aren’t independent contractors. QBs aren’t paying linemen. The law as it’s written doesn’t permit it, either.

                  Why should I waste time on hypotheticals that have no connection to reality?


                • Derek

                  How are they not independent contractors now?

                  Why is hocking cars/trucks different than washing JT’s car?

                  I mean JT may not issue a 1099, but he might be willing to pay the teammate. He might, if he has it/the player needs it/didn’t allow a sack, pay the teammate well over a market rate.

                  I could see a coach saying: “we don’t pay each other money. We don’t hire our teammates to perform services for us. We don’t pay performance bonuses. We don’t let teammates borrow. We don’t put out bounties. Its just a real bad idea. So don’t. If you do any of that you’re done.”

                  Makes perfect sense to me.

                  But do those rules make sense to you given what you’ve advocated in terms of these players having their freedom to contract restricted by supposedly outdated rules that didn’t hold up in a federal district court in CA?

                  I’ve been consistent that I don’t think they’re employees and each one of them could make a choice NOT to be a student athlete and thereby be freed from the rules that were in place when they signed their LOI. At least three first rounders made that choice last fall.

                  Liked by 1 person

              • TN Dawg


                The free market, up to this point, was to pay nothing (other than free tuition, room and board).
                That was all colleges were willing to offer for services.

                You’ve advocated, rightly so, to put rules in place to alter the terms of the market.

                That’s not really laissez faire, that’s a regulated market.

                Liked by 1 person

        • Derek

          Not in an “employment” setting, dude.

          Which supposedly this is.


          • akascuba

            Until this thread the thought of player bounties paid by a well endorsed student athlete to injury or alter a games outcome never entered my mind.

            Going forward take a play like last years WLOCP Stetson Bennett is injured via a cheap shot hit effectively removing him from the game with is team up 14-0. Its possible without his shoulder injury the game ends differently. The only reason I mention that is the conspiracy theories regarding every injury that effects a major game will be endless. Opening an entirely new type of click bait journalists dream land of accusations.

            Suddenly wealthily student athletes will be accused of paying team mates to alter outcomes or any other wild assed Click Here crap headline you can think of. Fear, bad news or accusations against your rivals always brings attention.

            All the Clay Travis’s and Pawwwl Finebaum’s of the world must be grinning ear to ear with the opportunities to boost the rating.


  13. Derek

    “Why should the long snapper not hike it over the punter’s head w if the qb makes more bank?”

    Your elected official


    • Gaskilldawg

      So the coach doesn’t change long snappers and the vengeful long snapper doesn’t lose his scholarship


    • James A Mercer Jr

      Derek, you make my head hurt! Although I’m opposed to it, you make me utter the profane: “Fuck it!”….I’m out of here!

      Liked by 2 people

  14. beatarmy92

    Cowsert is an idiot. Why he thinks no one would want an autograph from someone like Ben Cleveland or Andrew Thomas I’ll never understand. That’s SuperDumb

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s dumber than you think. He ignores athletes in every sport other than football with a comment like that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • beatarmy92

        Oh I got that too. Just he specifically dismissed OL for some dumb unknowable reasons.


      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        I have had some limited dealings with Cowsert in my time practicing, and he always seemed like a decent, relatively bright guy. I even voted for him several times. That he is so involved with this (and one or two other things in this last session) and the comments he has made is baffling to me.

        As far having to explain it to recruits – and it would be better not to have to explain – you had a sentence that makes the explanation easy: “Quite simply, who needs the aggravation?”


    • Yep … Ben Cleveland probably could have signed autographs every weekend at the Bass Pro Shops in Gwinnett County.

      Liked by 4 people

  15. godawgs1701

    Well I, for one, am absolutely shocked that the Georgia State Legislature screwed up something that should have been completely simple.

    Liked by 6 people

  16. sundiatagaines

    It’ll ding us in recruiting a bit for the short-term.
    But I don’t mind the clause as a hedge on unintended consequences. You never know, in 5 years the pool concept may actually turn out to be preferred by more recruits.


  17. spur21

    How do such stupid folks get to make the rules?


    • Because more stupid voters keep putting them in charge.

      Liked by 4 people

      • BTW…he’s an UGA biz and law grad, former majority leader, and wife related by marriage to Gov Kemp (thanks Wikipedia!). Until he publicly states more clear reasoning we can only speculate, but I ‘m guessing he and Morehead know each other very well and can’t help but wonder if this idea came to him from sources within UGA as opposed to his own thinking (which seem contrarian to conservative principles) or outside sources.

        Billy…you got some splainin’ to do. Maybe Jere too even though he’s disowning it…for now. Somebody wanted this provision and twisted enough arms of their colleagues to get it included, passed and signed by the Gov.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. PTC DAWG

    Great, another “life isn’t fair” politician.


  19. TN Dawg

    The Legislature is simply addressing traditional, systemic biases in our athletic culture that have unfairly privileged the quarterback position which has a history of disenfranchising the black athlete from that position.

    By pooling the NLI money, which is biased towards football due to the historically patriarchal society, the University will be able to take money a redistribute it to under-compensated people groups, genders and sexual identities that might otherwise not receive any compensation due to the inherit biases of society.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. MGW

    Regarding the Cowser comment: I love the politicians waffling back and forth between “capitalism is perfect! greed is good! only the strong survive!” on most issues then, suddenly when it comes to their favorite sport, it’s, “well, now that wouldn’t be fair for some people to make more money just because they’re more marketable and talented that everyone else…”

    10/10 for mental gymnastics. Nailed the landing.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Russ

    Senator, thank you for doing the heavy lifting and keeping us up to date on this. My eyes glaze over after 2 sentences of this stuff. This is why I quickly gave up any thoughts about being a lawyer and went engineering instead. The bridge either works or it doesn’t, no interpretation needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. mg4life0331

    Senator could you start tldr section. This lawyer shit is painful to read man.


  23. BuffaloSpringfield

    Mayberry Addition: House Bill 617 Opie’s friend Arnold seems to have it all–a new bike, fat allowance, and plenty of leisure time. When the pressure’s on, though, Opie learns that these assets are actually Arnold’s greatest weakness.
    Hardest part figuring out which one is Arnold, Opie and NCAA.


  24. W Cobb Dawg

    We’re visiting San Antonio, where this story is front page sports section news today… and not in a good way.

    Legislature should’ve just taken the year off.


    • No school in Georgia is going to implement this.

      I imagine this provision is going to be repealed in the 2022 legislative session. It may even come off the books in 2021 if they can get to it during the special session for redistricting.


  25. TripleB

    If a strong argument can be made that student athletes are legally entitled to profit from their NIL (especially when they have to stay in college through their junior year), then how would a law that allows payment of NIL to the student, while at the same time confiscating 75% of the, solve the legal issue? Seems to me they are now only given 25% of their entitled compensation, unless of course the school keeps their verbal promise not to take it.

    Sort of like passing the First Amendment, with a provision that the government can take back some free speech if they think they need to.


  26. I am so, so, so damned tired of politicians.

    Liked by 4 people

  27. ElectroM

    Sounds like great jobs program for bureaucrats. The pool will be too much for the athletic director to run, so it will require hiring a director, deputy director, financial director etc. and all their assistants (ie friends and family) in order to properly and fairly administer the pool. That’s going to require lawyers, PR people and the usual bunch. All paid for out of the pools funds so as not to be a burden on the university. The athletes might get enough to buy a happy meal if they’re lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. 69Dawg

    Addressing earlier remarks, QB’s have and are still taking the big boys out to dinner on their own dime. Nothing will change this. The running backs who for the most part are not from affluent backgrounds will now have enough disposable income to also take care of the Bign’s. As to the employment matter, I addressed the 1099-NEC matter earlier. Now the congress is going after gig workers this might change this concept but as of now the car dealer is just getting the QB for a gig (signing Autographs) and not as an employee. Nothing stops the QB for doing the same gig for a different dealer. The SA’s will have to report it but they might actually have a deduction for payments to other gig workers ie. the Oline per game. This is going to be a tax mess no matter what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Anyone else see the irony in a rock-ribbed Georgia Republican advocating for everyone getting a piece of the “skill players’ ” riches? Sounds almost like…socialism.

    Liked by 1 person

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