FRANKFORT, Ky. — It’s not every day the state’s highest paid employee testifies for a bill in Frankfort.  

“I think it’s a model bill,” University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari said about Senate Bill 6. “I think other states are going to look at this bill and say, ‘Wow.'"

What You Need To Know

  • Senate Bill 6 creates a system for college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness

  • The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in June that essentially allowed college athletes to earn money off endorsements or social media

  • Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order last year allowing NIL deals, and SB 6 builds off of that

Calipari told the Senate Education Committee that SB6 will open doors for college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness, while also protecting universities.  

“What’s going to happen if you don’t have a state law and you say I’m free to do what I want? You’ve got no protection,” he said. “And the NCAA may choose to say we’re going to let that one go, but you, we’re going to question everything about it.”

The measure also prohibits athletes from getting certain endorsements — like anything illegal, pertaining to adult entertainment, or gambling — and requires schools to offer financial literacy courses to help athletes better understand their finances.  

The measure comes after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June last year that essentially allowed college athletes to make money off of endorsements or social media.

Gov. Andy Beshear quickly signed an executive order to make it legal in Kentucky, and now SB 6 builds off that.  

“In this space and in this time, states are now having to grapple with the issue and decide what is best,” Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville), one of the bill’s sponsors, said. “What is best, No. 1, for the university, but most importantly, No. 2, what’s best for the student athlete.”

Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville), another co-sponsor of the legislation, said NIL puts student-athletes on the same level as every other university student.

“If you’re a musician on scholarship, you can start a YouTube channel or an Instagram feed, and give lessons or promote your band,” he said. “If you’re an artist, you can sell your paintings. If you’re a journalism student, you can go work somewhere and do freelance writing. You can work at your craft. You can promote yourself. Our student athletes haven’t had that opportunity.”

The Senate Education Committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 6, but some lawmakers on the panel still had questions about the bill. Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Benton) asked Calipari if he feels the NIL law will keep basketball players from leaving early to turn pro.

“The kids that have made mistakes leaving early because of it will stay,” Calipari said.

SB 6 now moves to the Senate floor, where it could receive a vote as early as Thursday.