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North Carolina sports legislation could change athletic landscape

DTH Illustration. A bill is being proposed that will legalize sports betting for college and professional sports. Money lays on top of sports balls outside of Dorrance Field on Monday, March 27, 2023

The North Carolina athletic landscape has changed in the past year with the passage of new policies — including in NIL, sports betting and legislation impacting trans athletes.

Here are some changes to be aware of.

NIL in high school

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted to allow high school athletes in North Carolina to use their name, image and likeness for profit beginning on July 1. With the NCHSAA making this decision in early May, North Carolina has become the 28th state to create a NIL policy for high school students.

In order to benefit from potential NIL deals, athletes, parents and athletic directors will have to complete an annual course created by the National Federation of State High School Associations. According to the federation, the course aims to teach athletes how to market their brand while emphasizing the limitations of NIL — for example, that athletes cannot be paid for what is called “pay-for-play,” which is when an athlete earns money for competing.

Along with marketing, the course also hopes to identify misconceptions and make clear what athletes and their families should consider while pursuing a NIL deal. 

Despite the passing of the policy, the N.C. Senate voted to add an amendment to Senate Bill 636 that nullifies the NCHSAA vote. The bill would still need to pass the N.C. House, but it has been in the House rules committee since May 4.

Sports betting

The U.S. Supreme Court ended the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018 which acted as the federal ban on sports betting. Without PASPA, about two-thirds of states have created laws that have legalized some form of sports betting. However, less than half have legalized online or mobile sports betting since the Supreme Court’s decision.

In 2022, a proposal to legalize mobile sports betting in North Carolina failed by one vote. 

The new legislation currently being proposed in North Carolina would allow individuals to bet online and at different stadiums and arenas.

House Bill 347, the new North Carolina legislation, would set a 14 percent privilege tax on operators who facilitate sports betting. The funds would be allocated to services such as the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction rehabilitation as well as youth sports and collegiate athletic program funding.

The current version of the bill annually allocates $2 million to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, $1 million annually to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation to support youth sports and potentially $300,000 to each of the 10 public universities in the state to support their collegiate athletic programs — among allocations to other programs in the state.

The bill passed the N.C. House with bipartisan support, but has been in the Senate rules committee since March 30.

Transgender athletes 

So far, 21 states have enacted laws to limit transgender athletes from taking part in sports that are consistent with their gender identity.

In late April, N.C. House Republicans approved legislation that would ban trans women from participating in women's sports.

Specifically, transgender individuals would be required to play on teams that align with their sex assigned at birth. The bill applies to middle schools, high schools and both public and private colleges and universities.

As the debate surrounding transgender athletes continues, the NCAA is also working to change its rules. Using a sport-by-sport approach, transgender athletes are allowed to play on teams that align with their gender identity if documentation is provided. This documentation must meet the respective sport’s standards and could include measurements of testosterone levels.

Transgender individuals have emphasized that bills banning trans women playing on women's teams stigmatize the community.

@_emmahmoon | @oliviagschwind

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