Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine learned many years ago bills are not done until they’re done and the games aren’t over until they’re over.
What looked to be a smooth process for Senate Bill 187, which would allow college athletes across Ohio to profit off the use of their names, images and likenesses, ran into a hurdle last week when State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) added an amendment that would ban transgender girls and women from playing on girls and women’s teams sponsored by Ohio high schools and colleges.
On Monday, DeWine responded by signing an executive order that prohibits “any college or university from preventing a student from participating in athletics or otherwise punishing them as a result of earning this compensation from their name, image, and likeness effective July 1.”
The timing of the executive order is important news for college athletes across the state and the programs they represent because Florida, Alabama, Texas and New York, among other states, will give their college athletes the same rights starting Thursday.
“We had an urgent deadline,” said State Sen. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg), who sponsored the bill. “We wanted to ensure that student-athletes in Ohio have rights equivalent to other states. Speaking frankly, this is a recruiting issue. We want our teams to succeed.”
After DeWine signed the executive order,. the Conference Committee on House Bill 110, the state budget, voted to include an amendment legalizing the name, image, likeness issue. The amendment will reflect the language of SB 187.
“Once the Conference Committee votes the report out of the committee,” an Ohio Senate press release explained, “it will proceed to the full House and Senate for a vote, and then to the Governor’s desk for his signature or veto.”
Antani referred to the Powell’s attempt to add an amendment to the bill as a fumble and credited DeWine for picking up the ball and scoring a touchdown with the executive order. The goal now will be to make it a permanent law.
One athlete who would have benefitted from name, image and likeness rights when he was in college, former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, stood at the table as DeWine signed the executive order.
Jones called it a groundbreaking day for Ohio student-athletes.
“I want to thank our decision makers and our leaders of the state for allowing me to be a part of this,” Jones said, “and I’m just excited for the future of student-athletes, that they finally have the opportunity to take advantage of their name, image and likeness and the brand they create on and off the field.”
As for the issue of transgender girls or women playing on girls and women’s teams, DeWine reiterated what he said last week, that it is an issue best addressed outside of government.
“I think before the government gets involved in making decisions about who can play high school sports or college sports,” DeWine said, “it needs to be shown that in the case of high school athletes, for example, the high school athletic association is not capable of doing that or is not doing that adequately. I think that’s where you have to start before government becomes involved. We want to make sure everyone’s treated fairly. We want to make sure our female athletes in high school are treated fairly.”
Powell released her own statement in response to DeWine’s executive order.
“Today, we have learned that Gov. DeWine prioritizes delivering profits to college athletes over protecting little girls in Ohio,” Powell said. “Instead of advocating for female athletics under the Save Women’s Sports Act, the governor has decided to bypass the General Assembly. His executive order, which will disproportionately benefit male athletes, does nothing to promote fairness in women’s sports. College athletes have large institutions and big money on their side. Little girls don’t — and that’s why I’m fighting so passionately for them. I fully support college athletes receiving compensation for the use of their name and likeness. But legislation benefiting them must also benefit the young female athletes who compete in our state.”