The doors to a new era of varsity sport officially opened on Thursday. For the first time, everything NCAA Athletes Can Now Make Money of a wide variety of commercial enterprises without losing their eligibility.
A mix of state laws and NCAA rule changes removed bans that prevented athletes from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses (NIL). The transformative change comes after more than a decade of legal, political and public pressure to give athletes access to a larger share of the billions of dollars generated each year by college sport.
New opportunities in front of athletes are abundant, but they can also quickly become obscure amid a confusing, complex and sometimes contradictory set of guidelines regarding the types of deals athletes can make and the types of products they can make. can approve. This beginner’s guide to understanding the NIL should get you up to speed with everything you need to know about the impact of the new rules on college sports.
What is NIL?
The rights to name, image and likeness are also frequently referred to as an individual’s right to publicity. NCAA athletes will be able to accept money from companies in exchange for the company’s permission to feature them in advertisements or products. Athletes will also be allowed to use their own varsity athlete status to promote their own public or company appearances for the first time.
All Americans have the right to sell their NIL. Previously, athletes waived these rights when signing their scholarship agreements. This will no longer be the case.
Who makes the rules?
There are about a dozen states that have laws in place that dictate how college athletes can benefit from their name, image, and likeness. The NCAA has asked individual schools in states that do not yet have laws in place to develop their own policies based on general guidelines designed to prevent pay-for-play agreements and payouts from being used as incentives to recruit.
Will schools be allowed to pay athletes directly?
No. Most new state laws and NCAA rules explicitly prohibit schools from paying athletes directly for the use of their NIL or for any other purpose.
Can athletes hire agents to help them with all of this?
Yes. All state laws and NCAA rules allow athletes to hire professional help in the form of lawyers, agents, tax specialists, and others. These new relationships come with a major caveat, however. Agents can help with NIL offers. Their contracts cannot stipulate that agents would represent the athlete in future negotiations if they go pro. The NFLPA warned professional sports agents in a statement Thursday to heed the restrictions.
Can athletes make NIL deals with boosters?
The NCAA has no rules prohibiting boosters from paying athletes as long as those payments are not directly for their athletic performance or as an incentive for recruiting purposes. Some new state laws deal with the involvement of boosters in different ways, and some may require further interpretation before it is clear to what extent boosters may be involved in the payment of athletes in those states.
Are schools allowed to organize NIL opportunities for student-athletes?
Some state laws prohibit schools from entering into agreements for their athletes. NCAA rules leave that up to individual schools, but they warn that schools must be careful not to cross any lines in an area that could be seen as paying players or using NIL payments as a recruiting tool.
Are there any other restrictions on how athletes can earn money?
Yes. State laws and policies developed by individual schools create an inconsistent variety of restrictions on athletes depending on where they attend school. In some places, athletes cannot endorse alcohol, tobacco, or gambling products. Others have restrictions on whether athletes are allowed to use school logos and other copyrighted materials. by copyright in all paid opportunities.
Most states and schools also prohibit athletes from signing agreements that conflict with the school’s sponsorship agreements. For example, a basketball player from a Nike sponsored team would not be allowed to wear Adidas shoes during games. However, in most cases, this athlete could promote a non-Nike footwear company during times when they are not playing games or participating in other team activities.
Will a person be required to report name, image and likeness activities to their school?
Most state laws provide for a time frame within which athletes must share the details of any potential NIL agreement with the school. In some states, the school must approve agreements in advance. NCAA rules don’t specifically require athletes to report their offers to schools, but it’s likely that most schools will create policies that require some form of disclosure.
Why isn’t there a universal set of rules for all varsity athletes?
Pressure for NIL rights accelerated in 2019, when California passed state law that banned its schools from banning athletes from earning money. Over the past two years, lawmakers from around two dozen other states have passed similar laws to ensure their schools aren’t at a disadvantage in recruiting top talent. Due to lobbying from local schools and each state legislature’s deep understanding of the nature of college sports, these lawmakers have taken different approaches to regulating the new market.
The NCAA was hoping Congress would help it pass a federal law that would create a consistent standard for all college athletes, but members of Congress have yet to agree on what should be included in national law. The NCAA is concerned that the organization could face legal problems due to violations of antitrust rules if it creates its own set of NIL restrictions without the backing of federal law. So, for now, any school located in a state where no law comes into effect is responsible for develop and apply its own NIL policy.
Will there be a set of universal rules in the future?
It is likely that Congress will pass some sort of legislation allowing a uniform NIL standard for all varsity athletes across the country. Democrats and Republicans are so far divided over the scope of the reform they want to include in a law of Congress. Republicans are pushing for a narrow law that deals only with NIL rights. Democrats want schools to offer increased medical coverage, academic benefits, and the right for athletes to bargain collectively in the future.
NCAA executives have stressed that the rule changes put in place for July 1 are a temporary fix as they try to find ways to provide more guidance in the future.
What sort of things will varsity athletes do now to make money?
Athletes are expected to appear in national advertising campaigns; partner with brands to advertise on social networks; start their own sports camps for young people or give lessons; start their own business; sell souvenirs; make paid public appearances for conferences or autograph signing; and use their NIL rights in various other creative ways.
Who does it benefit from?
The biggest stars in college sports will have the opportunity to use their notoriety to sign contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Others who have built a considerable number of social media subscribers are also expected to earn considerable sums of money. But all college athletes will have the opportunity to earn smaller amounts of money or receive free items or meals in exchange for promoting local businesses. Experts are not sure what the demand for college athletes will be in the future, but this previous story estimates the value of the types of opportunities that are now available to college athletes.
Does that mean college sports video games are coming back with gamers?
Perhaps. Video games rely on group licensing agreements to negotiate their NIL rights with large groups of athletes. College sports still do not have unions, which usually negotiate group agreements for athletes. While the current NCAA restrictions do not expressly prohibit group licensing, it is not clear whether future rules could attempt to prevent these types of arrangements. Some companies are struggling to find ways to form group licenses with college athletes without the need for a union, and EA Sports is committed to bringing back its popular college football video game over the next few years with or without the players directly. involved.
EA Sports issued this statement after the new NIL rules came into effect: “We are following recent developments regarding the name, image and likeness of student-athletes very closely. including EA SPORTS college football players. For now, our development team is focused on working with our partners at CLC to ensure the game authentically presents the great sport of college football and the more than 100 institutions registered to feature in our game. “
How is this going to change things for the fans?
It won’t really be. You will begin to see athletes from your favorite schools in local and national advertisements. You might see differences develop between athletes and schools as the two groups try to sort out the gray area created by the new rules. Many athletes and their supporters believe that the new NIL opportunities will provide fans with an increased opportunity to interact with their favorite players and learn more about who they are and what excites them beyond their sport.
ESPN reporter David M. Hale contributed to this story.