Breaking with a long-held stance on athlete compensation, the NCAA Division I schools’ top rules-making group Wednesday approvedthat will significantly enhance athletes’ ability to make money from their name, image, and likeness, beginning Thursday.
The decision announced by the NCAA came hours before laws orin more than a dozen states that will have the same impact was set to take effect. The setup will remain in place until federal legislation or new are adopted.
“With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level,”said in a statement. “The current legal and legislative environment prevents us from providing a more permanent solution, and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”
The NCAA stands on the edge of the most fundamental change to the college sports landscapeIX, the gender-equity law implemented nearly 50 years ago. Under the new arrangement, college athletes can engage in activities, including endorsement deals, leveraging for pay, getting compensated for coaching, making personal appearances, and signing autographs.
They will be able to do all of this in an environment that, at least for now, will have far fewer fixed boundaries than the schools had anticipated would be in place in the wake of a vote on a detailed set of rules changes that had been set for January.
Schools in states with laws about athletes’ name, image, and likeness (NIL) activity “are responsible for determining whether those activities are consistent with state law,” the association said. Schools in states without NIL laws will be able to develop their policies. The NCAA only says that the association will maintain its “prohibitions on pay-for-play and improper recruiting inducements.”
ANALYSIS: NCAA’s band-aid approach could have – and should have – been avoided. Now, there’s just confusion.
MORE: Read about some student-athletes already cashing in
A question-and-answer document addressed whether schools can arrange NIL opportunities for athletes by saying: “During the interim NIL policy, the expectation is that schools and student-athletes will not use NIL transactions to compensate for athletic participation or achievement or as an improper inducement.”
“It puts a lot of burden on schools on how to proceed,” said Tom McMillen, president, and CEO of the LEAD1 Association, representing Football Bowl Subdivision athletics directors. “Schools could be very permissive, and it would help them in recruiting. That’s a possibility. I don’t know that there’s a downside to being permissive.”
Said Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher: “I think the values of institutions will shine through.. We’ve been talking for eons about modernizing our rules. This will be a dynamic process, and we need a national solution.”
Wednesday’s decision is the culmination of a series of events over the past 12into abandoning a standard of amateurism that they defended through legal battles that have cost the association and significant conferences hundreds of millions of dollars in legal settlements and attorneys’ fees.
A string of antitrust suits, starting in 2009, building toward a unanimousruling against the NCAA last week. And there have been stating on athletes’ behalf that began in California in 2019 and spread to a Florida law that established July 1, 2021, as an effective date other states have been racing to match.
The NCAA had been set to vote on detailed rules changes in January but tabled the matter when thedecided in December to hear the case on which it ruled last week. Then, days before the scheduled vote, the Justice Department about the plan.
isn’t buying what NCAA is selling, and neither are we
ANALYSIS: Whatruling means and What’s Next for college athletes
Meanwhile, federal lawmakers began taking an interest in the issue, introducing several bills that expired as the 2020 Congressional session wound down and. In 2021, while the NCAA remained on hold, the number of laws with a July 1 start date began rising rapidly. That prompted the association to step up efforts to seek federal legislation.
However, five bills this health care and safety standards.have stalled as the NCAA has sought a federal legal standard on athletes’ NIL activity and protection from continued antitrust challenges. Democratic lawmakers have responded by demanding improvements from the schools in other benefits for athletes, such as
“Today’s decision from the NCAA is a welcome acknowledgment thatdo more for college athletes,” Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said in a statement. “However, today’s interim action is no substitute for a national standard that not only gives our student-athletes the ability to control their own name, image, and likeness rights but also includes health care, safety, scholarship, and transfer protections.”
Blake Lawrence — the CEO of Opendorse, a sports technology company that works to help athletes build their endorsement value — said in an interview withSports on Wednesday: “We are preparing for 100,000 student-athletes to register on our platform in the next 48 hours. There’s already 30,000 (registered), and we expect to see 100,000-plus more.”
Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential, a firm that connects social media influencers with brands and works with several Fortune 500 companies, predicted a sweeping and lucrative total marketplace over the remainder of this.
“I would be shocked if it’s not (a total in the) low tens ofbeing put into the hands of both major-college athletes and nano-, micro-influencers that may not just be in the major sports like basketball, baseball, football — but (in) every possible sport. ” Detert told Sports “about lacrosse, women’s soccer, everything.
Asked about the types of activities and money involved, Lawrence detailed a wide range of possibilities. e will do several million ourselves, based on the current pipeline and interest. And it makes a lot of sense because we’re doing these Gen-Z and millennial campaigns with some of the biggest brands in the world.”
“It is clear that there are a handful of student-athletes on each team that is doing things like their own merchandise line, so using maybe a Shopify landing page to sell merchandise online, starting tomorrow,” Lawrence said. “Others that have a car dealership that’s already going to provide them a free car starting tomorrow. I mean, there many different things are happening for sure.
“I would say that these initial offers, there are some that are in the five figures, there are some in the four figures, and others are more around the hundred-dollar range. I have yet to be made aware of anything in the six-figure range in terregardingtunities in the marketplace, but I’m sure there will be some at some level.”reporter Steve Berkowitz on Twitter @ByBerkowitz