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Emoni Bates' NLI earnings potential hinges on NCAA, lawmakers: Here's what's being discussed

Detroit Free Press logo Detroit Free Press 7/5/2020 Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press
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What is a name worth? Let alone that of a teenage basketball wunderkind with multiple years of high school amateurism remaining? And how might that affect the schools they attend?

Emoni Bates and Michigan State may soon find out.

But first, the sticking points over rules and potential conflicts must be resolved about how to allow college athletes to benefit from their names, images and likenesses in the free market.

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Richard Hunter, a professor of sports law at Seton Hall University and former college soccer coach at Notre Dame, said one of the NCAA's big concerns is “to keep boosters out of the way.”

He believes the NCAA is trying to prevent any potential antitrust lawsuits, but also sees potential for athletes to hire a business agent to get endorsement deals similar to pro athletes as starting points for how they can do the same.

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“I think some people are envisioning this going to companies like Logo Athletics or Champion in the old days and not to, you know, Freddy's Dry Cleaner or Johnny's Delicatessen,” Hunter said. “But where the hell are you gonna draw the line about these things? And what's a legitimate company or interest and a booster?

“There's a lot of details that have to be worked out about this.

Marissa Coleman et al. posing for the camera: High school basketball star Emoni Bates looks on during Michigan State's game against Ohio State on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The Spartans won a share of the Big Ten Championship. © Nick King/Lansing State Journal High school basketball star Emoni Bates looks on during Michigan State's game against Ohio State on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. The Spartans won a share of the Big Ten Championship.

States already have pushed the NCAA to expedite action, with California, Colorado and Florida passing legislation so college athletes can monetize their images. Florida’s law is set to go into effect July 1, 2021 — 18 months before those of the other two.

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The federal government also is working on plans to require national rules over name, images and likeness (NIL for short). A bill from Sen. Marco Rubio (R, Fla.) is being considered by the NCAA as one that could work for college sports.

a group of people posing for a photo: Ypsilanti Lincoln 2022 five-star small forward Emoni Bates made an announcement Monday on ESPN, committing to Michigan State basketball. © ESPN Ypsilanti Lincoln 2022 five-star small forward Emoni Bates made an announcement Monday on ESPN, committing to Michigan State basketball.

However, opponents and athletes’ rights advocates, such as Ramogi Huma of the National College Players Association, believe it would severely restrict earning potential.

By Sept. 1, all three NCAA divisions are expected to have initial legislative proposals, with final drafts to update NIL rules required by Nov. 1. The NCAA wants to have final approval in place at its annual meetings Jan. 31, 2021, “with effective dates no later than the start of the 2021-22 academic year."

“They're gonna have to write a law, they're gonna have to write a rule,” Hunter said. “And then it'll be criticized saying, ‘How about this? Why not that? Let's make this.’ So somebody's always got to be first to put things down on paper and pencil and the NCAA is letting individual schools and the divisions come up with some proposals.”

a group of people in front of a crowd: Ypsilanti Lincoln high school's Emoni Bates celebrates with his dad after the 81-79 win against Novi Detroit Catholic Central high school in the regional final Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Ypsilanti Lincoln high school in Ypsilanti, Mich. © Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press Ypsilanti Lincoln high school's Emoni Bates celebrates with his dad after the 81-79 win against Novi Detroit Catholic Central high school in the regional final Thursday, March 7, 2019 at Ypsilanti Lincoln high school in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Bates is not scheduled to graduate high school until 2022. However, his father, EJ, told ESPN he expects his son academically should be able to reclassify so he could enter MSU next year as part of the 2021 class.

Much of what Bates’ potential earnings — if he does end up a college athlete instead of going to the NBA’s developmental G League or playing overseas and getting paid — could be tied to those rules.

“When you're a recruit coming out, if you have that much potential when you're looking potentially at the G League or going to a place like Michigan State, those are important things to consider," Huma said. "And it's hard to make an accurate call as to what you know what the right decision is.

"There always will be some recruits coming out. And if those recruits have better options in college than they do now, then the colleges have a better chance of trying to keep the talent in college.”

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Emoni Bates' NLI earnings potential hinges on NCAA, lawmakers: Here's what's being discussed

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