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What NCAA's New Endorsement Rules Would Mean For Duke

All three divisions must approve compensation for NIL rights

The NCAA Board of Governors supported rule changes to allow student-athletes to be compensation for third-party endorsements. The organization announced the decision, which still needs to be approved by all three divisions, on Wednesday.

Here’s what that means—and doesn’t mean—for Duke athletes going forward.

“I’m Wendell Moore Jr. of Duke basketball, and I’d like to tell you about the deals at Fred Anderson Toyota”: ALLOWED

Players are allowed to identify themselves by sport and school (although they can’t use school or conference logos), and they’re allowed to use their name and likeness for both sports and non-sports-related purposes.

Can Fred Anderson give Moore a 2020 Land Cruiser to tool around Durham in, as a way of helping to endorse the dealership? Apparently. On the call, Ohio State A.D. Gene Smith said “there is no cap” on how much a student athlete can receive. Of course, the announcement also mentions “guardrails” which could serve to limit earnings.

Offensive lineman Jacob Monk begins painting water-color landscapes and selling them on Etsy: ALLOWED

That would be considered a business that Monk started, and that’s specifically included in the working group’s report. This has been a point of contention in the past, going back to 1991, when UNLV guard Greg Anthony wasn’t allowed to continue running a t-shirt company he started. More recently, UNC walk-on Shea Rush gave each of his teammates hand-made fedoras during the team’s Final Four run a few years ago. Fans clamored to buy a Rush original, but he wasn’t allowed to sell his hats while still on the team.

If Monk turns out not to be a skilled painter, he could also start “The Jacob Monk summer blocking camp” for aspiring offensive linemen, as long as he doesn’t use any Duke logos while marketing it or hold it at Duke.

“Hi, I’m Chase Brice. Come watch me and the rest of my Blue Devil teammates by getting your Duke season tickets now”: NOT ALLOWED*

The asterisk is because this type of advertising is done now. Players can promote upcoming events at the school or be used in ads and on billboards to hawk season tickets—they just can’t be paid for it. So, if Brice wants to volunteer his services, he’s more than welcome.

The working group took great care to specify, however, “At no point should a university or college pay student-athletes for name, image and likeness activities.”

Similarly, if a group of football players wants to show up at a sports memorabilia show in Raleigh to sign autographs for a fee—or sign as part of a paid appearance at a Denny’s—that’s permissible. If they want to be reimbursed for signing autographs at Duke’s annual “Meet the Blue Devils” summer event, not so much.

“Hi, I’m Jordan Goldwire. After a tough day of practice, there’s nothing I like better than kicking back with a cold Miller Lite. It has a third less calories than your regular beer…”: UNLIKELY

It’s not specifically outlawed … yet, but the working group report recommends that the Board of Governors consider “Whether certain categories of promotional activities (e.g., alcohol, tobacco and sports gambling) should be precluded because they are inconsistent with the NCAA membership's values.”

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Matthew Hurt can sign a shoe deal with Adidas: UNCLEAR

On paper, this seems like it would be allowed, but there’s enough leeway in the NCAA release to create a gray area that would ban athletes from negotiating their own shoe deals while still in college.

For instance, there is a bullet-pointed list of “principles and guidelines” that the divisions must adhere to when adopting changes. One of them is “ensuring student-athletes are treated similarly to nonathlete students,” and, since a nonathlete student could accept money to wear Adidas, it seems like Hurt is good to go. Except the bullet point tacks on the phrase “unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.”

What might be a compelling reason? The full working group report said that the three divisions should consider “whether certain categories of third-party businesses (e.g. athletics shoe and apparel companies) should be precluded from, or have limited participation in, the newly permitted activities, due to their history of encouraging or facilitating recruiting and other rules infractions.”

The working group also specifies that, in addition to banning the use of school logos, “other involvement” (by the school) is prohibited. Wearing a shoe that competes with the school’s uniform might be considered “other involvement” since it’s part of a sanctioned competition.

Another bulleted point emphasizes the need to “(make) clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities,” so wearing a shoe you endorse during a game might violate that.

Obviously, if star players can sign their own shoe deals, it would devalue the contracts that the schools themselves negotiate with the companies, which would be another motivating factor for the NCAA to limit these opportunities. In other words, it’s unlikely we’ll see individual shoe deals in the near future for college athletes.

Players get money from video game and replica jersey sales: UNCLEAR

Again, on paper, this seems like it would be allowed. However, it would likely require a group negotiation with all NCAA athletes, instead of individual contracts with certain players. And, on the conference call, Val Ackerman, commissioner of the Big East and working group co-chair, said that group licensing agreement are “unworkable in college sports.” That seems a likely candidate to be challenged early in the process.

Coach K tells Jonathan Kuminga, “We have a network of successful alumni with plenty of budget money to pay for Duke player endorsements. We can provide you a list once you get on campus”: NOT ALLOWED

Coach K instead tells Kuminga, “If you look at how much our players have made in endorsements over the last few years and compare that to Kentucky or UNC, I think you’ll see why Duke is the right choice”: NOT ALLOWED

This violates two different points of emphasis in the working group report, both of which seem like they’ll be very difficult to enforce.

The first says that “Schools and conferences play no role in a student-athlete's NIL activities” which includes “playing any role in locating, arranging or facilitating endorsement opportunities.”

The second prohibits “Using, or allowing boosters to use, such opportunities as a recruiting inducement or a means of paying for athletics participation.” The group recommended that the Board of Governors “reaffirm the integrity of the student-athlete recruitment process, so that the prospect of receiving NIL compensation does not exert undue influence on a student's choice of college.”