Starting Thursday, the NCAA will allow its athletes to enjoy their own personalities, something they haven’t been able to do in the past.
It will be the biggest change in varsity athletics sinceâ¦ well, maybe ever. It opens the floodgates to a new world of endorsements, compensation and sponsored content on social media at a time when the NCAA’s grip on amateurism seems weaker than ever.
You may have seen the term âNILâ, which means âname, image and likenessâ. The rule changes will allow varsity athletes of all skill levels to monetize their success using their name, image and likeness.
On Wednesday, the NCAA approved a recommendation to temporarily suspend its rules regarding amateurism, according to the Athletic. It’s coming just in time, as seven states enact laws on Thursday that will allow college athletes to make money.
Here is an explanation:
What is the old NIL rule?
The NCAA has long prohibited athletes from accepting outside money. He did this to preserve âamateurism,â the concept that college athletes are not professionals and therefore do not need to be paid. The NCAA felt that providing scholarships and allowances to athletes was sufficient.
As of Thursday, Division 1 athletes will have no major restrictions on how they can be compensated for their NIL. In the past, athletes could be suspended or lose their eligibility if they broke the rules.
Why is it changing?
Let’s go back to 2019, when California passed a law called âFair Pay to Playâ law.
Ed O’Bannon (whose lawsuit against the NCAA in the early 2010s prevented the organization from allowing the likenesses of its athletes for commercial purposes) and LeBron James sat next to California Governor Gavin Newsom as he was signing a bill that made it illegal for public schools to prohibit athletes from earning money with their name, image and likeness.
The law, which is expected to be enacted in 2023, replaces all rules set by the NCAA. This paved the way for what we’ll see this week.
In the years following California legislation, 19 states passed their own NIL laws. In seven of them – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky (by executive order), Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas – it will become law on Thursday. Arizona will follow in mid-July.
Five states (Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, and Tennessee) will enact laws in 2022. Nebraska and Oklahoma will have laws no later than 2023, with schools being allowed to enforce their own rules at any time. before this date. Colorado, Maryland and Montana will join California in 2023; New Jersey will follow in 2025.
Thursday’s rule change is an effort to anticipate those laws and bring the NCAA’s own guidelines into line with state law.
The NCAA had pressured Congress to pass a nationwide NIL law to avoid the emerging state-to-state patchwork, but that did not materialize on July 1.
If the NCAA hadn’t changed the rule in one form or another, schools in eight states with new laws this year would gain a significant advantage when it comes to recruiting athletes. It would be much easier to sell a Division 1 swimmer by going to school in Florida than, say, Michigan, as the athlete could benefit immediately.
How does an athlete market their NIL?
Starting Thursday, athletes will be allowed to earn money from their fame. Here are some examples :
Sponsored publications or advertisements on social networks
Sponsored videos on Twitter and YouTube
Training courses and summer camps
Sale of autographs and merchandise
A football player could receive a free meal in exchange for a Twitter post about a local restaurant. A volleyball player might accept a gift from a makeup brand in exchange for sharing it on Instagram. A field hockey player can use their face and name to recruit young athletes for a skills camp.
These are just a few examples. Athletes will also be allowed to hire agents to help them navigate the new NIL world.
What is not changing?
This does not affect the rules for choosing a school. Translation: Athletes will not be allowed to accept payments or bribes for choosing one football program over another. This is simply for third party offers.
There will always be stipulations, many of them on a school-by-school basis. Schools will have to decide whether an athlete can sign an agreement that rivals a pre-existing university agreement. For example, will Boston College allow a football player to sign a contract with New Balance, even if the team is sponsored by Adidas?
Athletes will not be able to use their university’s logos and trademarks in advertising. So if you see a female BC lacrosse player hosting a summer camp but not wearing the soaring eagle, that’s why.
What are some examples of places we will see this?
It’s already happening. On Monday, Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz released a promo featuring his own brand, a combination of his initials on a red background similar to Badgers uniforms.
While top men’s football and basketball players will likely receive the largest share of the money – as they are the most visible – this could be a boon to the Olympic sports which make up the bulk of the money. Division 1 sports programs.
Remember Katelyn Ohashi, the UCLA gymnast whose floor routine went viral? She didn’t earn a single dime on that fame, even though she’s been seen over 100 million times and she briefly became a household name. With the new NIL rules, Ohashi could have signed a number of sponsorship agreements or accepted sponsorships on his social media platforms.
Locally, you might see a top hockey player at UMass Amherst hosting a summer camp at a nearby rink and pocketing the registration fee.
The Washington Post highlighted five athletes who are not household names but have high earning potential under the new NIL rules, including twin Fresno State basketball players (a non-Power Five program) who have 3.3 million TikTok followers but have had to turn down endorsement offers and free products.
What are the critics saying?
When states began passing laws prohibiting the NCAA from punishing players who take advantage of their own name, image, and likeness, it was only a matter of time before the organization needed to change.
NCAA President Mark Emmert and other leaders have long argued that blurring the lines between amateur and professional athletes would have negative consequences. The NCAA says consumers love college sports precisely because they’re unprofessional. In their opinion, it is about the love of the game and the alma mater, not the money. There are also serious concerns that allowing a NIL profit could adversely affect the competitive equilibrium.
But when states began to pass laws, the NCAA’s hand was forced.
So that’s it, right? Is the new rule in place and things are ready to roll?
There are still a lot of problems to be solved. An influx of money into the pockets of college athletes creates an influx of middlemen – repairers, brands and ambassadors who want a cut. Sports Illustrated reported that most athletes wouldn’t make enough money to hire an agent, so they’ll end up working with a âdigital marketplaceâ to find referrals. It is a space with few regulations.
Some schools are already implementing programs to help their students prepare for changing laws. In Nebraska, the sports department has started educating and supporting its athletes. Opendorse, the leading digital marketplace for college athletes, was founded by two former Cornhusker football players and is based in Lincoln.
What does this have to do with last week’s court ruling?
The Supreme Court ruled last week that the NCAA cannot restrict a school’s spending on an athlete’s education. He upheld a lower court ruling that the Division 1 men’s and women’s football and basketball programs are required to pay for things like study abroad programs and new computers.
On paper, this unanimous decision is limited. But it showed how the nation’s highest court views the NCAA’s long-held belief that its athletes cannot be compensated as it would impact the integrity of varsity athletics.
The NCAA has long held that amateurism is essential to its mission, which has enabled it to avoid litigation under antitrust laws. But the ruling left the NCAA more vulnerable to losing athlete compensation cases in the future, according to The New York Times, as the judges indicated they did not accept the argument that the NCAA shouldn’t have to pay his athletes.
Regardless of what happens next in the courts, you will immediately see the impact of the changes to the NIL rule. It remains to be seen how this will affect the product in the field.