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Gov. Wolf, Penn State Athletes Celebrate NIL Legislation Allowing Endorsement Deals

Matt DiSanto

Governor Tom Wolf visited Penn State Monday to celebrate Pennsylvania’s new law allowing college athletes to get paid for endorsements and sponsorships.

High up in Beaver Stadium’s club level, Wolf recognized legislation that lets student-athletes profit from the use of their name, image, and likeness – better known as NIL. Wolf said the new policy will help athletes finally earn their fair share.

“For too long, college athletes were barred from earning compensation for endorsements, forced to allow other entities to profit off of their successes in order to continue playing the sports they love,” Wolf said. “Now, our athletes will no longer be forced to choose between receiving fair compensation and continuing to play.”

Athletes can’t simply get paid to play, but they are able to work with advertisers and sponsors. For example, Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford is already selling his own t-shirts.

Wolf also said Pennsylvania’s NIL law will help keep the state’s schools on a par with others around the country.

“[The NIL legislation] will also help ensure that Pennsylvania colleges and universities remain competitive and attractive,” Wolf said. “It will give top athletes a guarantee that they will be treated fairly here in Pennsylvania.”

Penn State women's basketball forward Anna Camden spoke in support of NIL legislation Monday. She has already signed an endorsement deal with Cameo.
Credit Matt DiSanto / WPSU
Penn State women's basketball forward Anna Camden spoke in support of NIL legislation Monday. She has already signed an endorsement deal with Cameo.

A dozen Penn State athletes appeared at the event. So did politicians like state Senator Jake Corman and Ed Gainey, who will likely be elected Pittsburgh’s next mayor.

Gainey said the legislation gives student-athletes experience managing their careers.

“When we talk about the development of our student-athletes, we should celebrate this as a success because we’re teaching them not only entrepreneurial skills but how to take care of their careers right here where they’re supposed to take care of them — in college,” Gainey said.

Earlier this month, Penn State Athletics announced its new “STATEment” program, which aims to help student-athletes learn about brand-building, media training, financial literacy, and more.

Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour said her department will work with student-athletes to help them navigate the NIL landscape.

“The word we are using at Penn State…is ‘entrepreneurial’ – the opportunity to engage in entrepreneurial activities of many, many sorts in the exact same way that any student on this campus has,” Barbour said. “Student-athletes did not have the right before. It’s what’s right, and we’re excited to see all they will do with this opportunity.”

So far, more than 25 states have already enacted their own NIL laws. An NCAA policy change last month paved the way for the endorsements.