College athletes now officially have the NCAA's stamp of approval to earn money, goods and services in exchange for usage of their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted on Wednesday afternoon to allow athletes to profit off of their NIL while maintaining their eligibility, alongside the governing bodies of both Division II and Division III athletics. The adopted interim policy will go into effect immediately, as laws across multiple states allowing NIL to take place are slated to begin on July 1.
“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “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. The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”
As of July 1, every NCAA athlete in the country will now be eligible to profit off of their NIL. The adoption of the new policy by the NCAA goes hand-in-hand with a complete suspension of all regulations prohibiting the selling of their NIL, changing the landscape of amateurism in one fell swoop.
The new rules will allow athletes to profit in various means, not simply through endorsements and sponsorships. While players will not be allowed pay for play, they will be able to monetize social media accounts, teach camps or lessons or even start their own businesses. Athletes will also be able to sign with agents or other representatives in order to acquire endorsements. However, those contract terms are not to extend past the athlete's graduation date or upon transferral to a different school.
In its official statement, the NCAA addressed its commitment to avoiding pay-for-play scenarios for athletes. Additionally, it provided the following points for guidance to athletes, recruits, families and member schools:
- Individuals can engage in NIL activities that are consistent with the law of the state where the school is located. Colleges and universities are responsible for determining whether those activities are consistent with state law.
- College athletes who attend a school in a state without an NIL law can engage in this type of activity without violating NCAA rules related to name, image and likeness.
- Individuals can use a professional services provider for NIL activities.
- Student-athletes should report NIL activities consistent with state law or school and conference requirements to their school.
While the road to NIL compensation has been part of an ongoing debate for decades, pressure has increased over the last several years to bring the issue to light. Courts as well as legislators at both the state and federal level have frequently brought the NCAA's old beliefs of maintaining amateurism at the college level into question. This coerced many states to adopt their own NIL laws and regulations, forcing action from the NCAA.
On Monday, the NCAA Division I Council voted to recommend to the Board of Directors a new NIL policy, which was the one approved unanimously on Wednesday.
As of June 30, 20 states have passed NIL legislation. Seven of those states' policies will go into effect on July 1 while another will take place later on next month. The other 12 states' laws are set to become actuality in 2022 or later.
The NCAA revealed in its statement that it will also continue to pursue federal legislation regarding NIL policies.
"Today, NCAA members voted to allow college athletes to benefit from name, image and likeness opportunities, no matter where their school is located,” Division I Board of Directors chair and Texas State president Denise Trauth said. “With this interim solution in place, we will continue to work with Congress to adopt federal legislation to support student-athletes.”
On Tuesday, Alabama athletics announced its own NIL guidelines for athletes and UA employees as well as boosters and fans. In addition to the new guidelines, Alabama athletics also established 'The Advantage' program, an educational resource for athletes to not only build and elevate their personal brands but also capitalize on it by helping the athletes establish NIL contracts with endorsers.
There will no doubt be plenty of issues that will be raised in the coming months and years regarding NIL. However, Alabama has laid down the groundwork that will no doubt be emulated across the country by athletic programs who wish to provide services for athletes to garner national attention and sponsorships.
Some opportunities will be restricted, such as endorsing tobacco or alcohol companies or adult entertainment or gambling venues such as casinos. However, athletes are able to be compensated by approved endorsements via multiple methods including money, goods or services.
In the coming days, it is expected that many Crimson Tide athletes — as well as athletes across the country — will be announcing new sponsorship deals.