Collegiate student-athletes got one step closer from being able to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) last week when the NCAA Board of Governors announced its support for a proposal from one of its working groups that would allow student-athletes to sign endorsement deals, earn advertising revenue and be paid for time spent and services provided as a student-athlete.
Students would be able to identify themselves by the school they attend and the sport they play, but that they wouldn’t be allowed to use their school’s branding or logos in that capacity. But student-athletes could, under the new rules, profit from things like monetizing their social media channel, hosting an in-person or virtual sports camp or making appearances in their capacity as a student-athlete (as long as the university isn’t organizing the event and its branding isn’t being used). There’s also a provision to allow for agents to be hired, though the specifics of how that would work are still under discussion.
The biggest point of discussion as this continues is expected to be the “guardrails” that the working group has proposed to ensure that any compensation “represent a genuine payment for use of their NIL, and is not simply a disguised form of pay for athletics participation.” Schools would not be allowed to directly pay student-athletes or be involved with organizing opportunities for NIL compensation, and there is also special attention being paid by the working group to ensure that NIL isn’t used by athletics boosters as a recruitment tool.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll dive into exactly what NCAA student-athletes would and wouldn’t be allowed to do under the proposed new rules, what potential role the federal government might play in the conversation, how the new rules would line up with state laws on NIL and what a world where student-athletes could receive compensation might look like.
We invited the NCAA, the chair of its Board of Governors Michael V. Drake, the Pac-12 Conference, and the athletic directors of all four California Pac-12 schools (UCLA, USC, Stanford, Cal) to participate in our discussion. None of them could accommodate our request, and as of the airing of this segment we have yet to get a response from the NCAA. USC and the Pac-12 Conference couldn’t accommodate our request but shared the following statement:
The Pac-12 and our member universities appreciate the progress of the working group. The report announced today represents a positive step towards supporting student-athletes while deferring the final rulemaking to the three divisions of the NCAA, and we look forward to participating in those discussions with the rest of Division I. At this time we, along with our members, will be reviewing the report in detail in order to understand all of its elements and formulate our views.
The Pac-12 is working with our peers in the Autonomy Five (ACC, Big 12, Big 10, SEC) to encourage Congress to enact a single, national, law that governs the NIL rights of student-athletes. With three states having enacted local laws, Congress’s consideration of a single national standard is appropriate and essential as student-athletes continue to compete for national championships in all sports.
The Pac-12 and our universities are hopeful that Congress will find legislative consensus on a national NIL standard and that the NCAA can adopt the necessary rules changes to accommodate it. We stand ready to work cooperatively with Congress in the interest of our student-athletes.
David Carter, associate professor of sports business at USC and founder and principal of The Sports Business Group, a consulting and marketing firm that works with sports organizations, venues and individual athletes