Football coaches gather at South Carolina Statehouse to support NIL bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney, South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer and Coastal Carolina football coach Tim Beck all came together at the Statehouse to urge lawmakers to pass a law allowing their schools to directly compensate their athletes.

The call for name, image and likeness legislation came Tuesday in a South Carolina House education committee hearing. It passed unanimously after the committee started the meeting with a group photo -- coaches in the front and lawmakers in the back. The bill now goes to the House floor; the Senate hasn't taken up the matter yet.

The three football coaches were joined by more than a dozen from other sports. They packed the hearing room, and South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley and men's basketball coach Lamont Paris prowled the halls of the House's office building to meet with legislators before the meeting started.

The bill would overhaul a law passed a few years ago when name, image and likeness laws were just starting. It would allow universities to work with companies or others who want to make NIL offers. The school could also evaluate the deals and give advice to athletes. It is similar to proposals in other states that also are trying to go around the NCAA.

"We have been limited in our NIL involvement through the ever-changing guidance from the NCAA, and that has left our student-athletes trying to figure out much of this on their own -- navigating complex NIL opportunities without trained guidance," Swinney told the committee.

Beamer thanked lawmakers for their consideration, saying passing the bill was vital to keep teams in the state competitive. Republican House Education and Public Works Committee chair Shannon Erickson, of Beaufort, rattled off the nearly dozen national titles won by coaches at the meeting or seen earlier in the day in football, women's basketball, men's soccer, equestrian and baseball.

"It is something we deal with daily. It is also ever-changing, daily. This law would give us stability and flexibility," Beamer said.

The bill is also needed for lesser-known, smaller teams, Coastal Carolina women's basketball coach Kevin Pederson said.

On his team, one player gets a few smoothies through her deal and a second gets bathing suits. The law would allow the school to work for better deals for all.

"They need an advocate who loves them the way I love them. They need an advocate who will push for them the way I push for them," Pederson said.

The outcome was certain before the gavel came down to open the meeting. Republican Rep. April Cromer from Anderson walked up to Swinney and shook his hand.

"This might not have been necessary. We were going to pass it anyway," she said as Swinney, Beamer and Beck all laughed.