RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – The North Carolina Senate is making moves to quash a plan that would allow North Carolina high school athletes to profit off of their names, images and likenesses.

Senate Bill 636, the bid to continue restructuring oversight of high school sports – an update of HB 91 that was signed by Gov. Cooper in 2021 – was passed in a 30-20, party-line margin Wednesday afternoon, but not before an amendment was added to further limit the power of the NCHSAA.

The NCHSAA’s executive committee on Wednesday, just hours before the Senate voted, had agreed to grant name-image-licensing income for high school athletes, which would’ve made North Carolina the 28th state to do so.

But senators didn’t like that action, and they amended the bill to transfer all authority for such agreements to the state Board of Education, which oversees a 4-year memorandum of understanding with the NCHSAA to operate high school sports. The amendment also allows the state superintendent to terminate that MOU with 6 months’ notice.

State Sens. Vickey Sawyer (Right) and Todd Johnson are sponsors of the bill. (WGHP)

“This week, with this very bill moving, this organization saw fit to overstep their rights and their power, and then they work behind our backs to undermine the General Assembly’s authority to exploit our children all in the name (of) a dollar,” said Sen. Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell) told the News & Observer.

NIL agreements, rampant in college sports, allow students to earn income for sponsorship and social media presence.

This bill, like the SB 631/HB 574 combo held up in committees, contains what lawmakers call “fairness provisions” to prohibit transgender students from competing in girls’ sports. Those had come under complaint and scrutiny.

The conference bill now returns to the House, although it was not listed for the session on Thursday morning. If approved there, it would go to Gov. Roy Cooper for a possible veto.

Other key bills

Several other bills moved along from one chamber to the other during spirited votes on Wednesday night. The House met until nearly 10 p.m. to handle more than 50 bills. The Senate acted on another dozen bills. Both chambers will be back this morning for further consideration.

There was engaged discussion on several bills on Wednesday night, and most votes were along the partisan divides, with Republicans holding supermajorities in both chambers.

Here is what happened with some of the most significant pieces: