Marketing is a huge industry across the globe. Wheelhouse Creative, the state’s leader in effective marketing, built its foundation on it.
And now Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, is proposing student-athletes have an opportunity to market themselves across the Mountain State.
For three reasons.
First, though, let’s quickly summarize what’s been happening. In a nice state news eye opener, Fluharty announced he’s proposing a bill in West Virginia that’s similar to that recently signed into law in California. With LeBron James and Ed O’Bannon seated beside him, California governor Gavin Newsom became the first state to create a legal right for college athletes to be compensated for the commercial use of their identities.
Unfortunately, though, it’s been tagged the “Fair Pay to Play Act.”
“To be clear, this is not paying athletes,” Fluharty said on Monday. “This is not the university paying athletes to play football. Period. I think there’s a misconception out there. This is basically saying if your name and/or likeness is being used, you should be paid for it.”
He mentioned an example to which WVU fans can relate.
“Let’s say Pat White sold 10,000 jerseys – which he probably sold more during his time at WVU,” Fluharty said. “He got zero. It’s a principled idea. Those that believe in a free market should understand if your name and likeness is being used, you should be compensated.”
Anyway, as mentioned, Fluharty is submitting the legislation in January for three reasons. First, he believes the student-athletes should have the right.
“Last week on MetroNews – I tweeted about it – there was a banner ad featuring [WVU basketball player] Jordan McCabe,” Fluharty said. “They used his face to advertise their ‘3 Guys Before the Game’ segment and he didn’t get compensated. It’s a bit ridiculous. In the current system, the NCAA makes over a billion dollars a year in revenue and they not paying those doing all the work.”
Secondly, the delegate and attorney said he’s looking out for state schools like WVU.
“If you’ve watched since California passed its legislation, you’re seeing a 50-state race,” Fluharty said. “There’s going to be legislation introduced in every statehouse in this country and I think we have a duty to make sure West Virginia is competitive in the marketplace. I just want to see us compete with other states and not fall behind.
“Pennsylvania is getting on board already. That’s a very rich recruiting ground for WVU. If you’re a student-athlete that’s going to be part of your considerations.”
Indeed, the ability to competitively recruit is among Fluharty’s concerns. And, thirdly, he said he’s looking out for West Virginia as a whole.
“This will have an economic impact on the state,” Fluharty said. “A study done by WVU athletics showed Mountaineer sports are a $300 million a year industry. So if you’re not competitive, it hurts our state. This past weekend, Mountaineer Field was sold out. Every hotel was booked. That’s a huge economic impact not only to Monongalia County, but the state as a whole.”
Fluharty said he’s already contacted the House of Delegates staff, sent examples of bills and said one for the Mountain State is being drafted.
Now the question is, how will it fly? The California bill, by the way, doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2023.
“I’ve actually received a lot of messages from colleagues that support it,” Fluharty said. “I think there’s a good chance of it moving through the legislature because they understand the importance of staying competitive on this issue.
“You either get on the wave and ride it or you get taken out by it.”
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