Illini AD Josh Whitman ‘Applauds’ NCAA After Announcement on NLI

Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman expressed cautious excitement over the NCAA announcement on name, image and likeness.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Josh Whitman expressed cautious excitement over the NCAA announcement supporting a small shift toward allowing limited profiting off name, image and likeness.

The Illinois athletics director, who was a tight end on the Illini football team and holds a law degree from the University of Illinois, released a statement Wednesday afternoon stating he wanted to “applaud” the recommendation by the NCAA Board of Governors for student-athletes to find revenue toward their name, image and likeness.

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman looks on during the fourth quarter of the game against Michigan at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 12, 2019.

Illinois Athletics Director Josh Whitman has been active during this COVID-19 epidemic with videos and Zoom media conferences during the last few months. 

Student-athletes can identify themselves by sport and school, but the use of conference or school logos or trademarks would not be permitted. Universities and colleges are also prohibited from paying any student-athletes for name, image and likeness activities as a recruiting benefit. It is also interesting to note what a “third party” could mean because specifically donors to a particular school’s athletics department are not permitted to pay that school’s student-athlete for the use of his NLI for the purpose of a commercial promotional spot.

"As I have stated previously, these are complicated questions, and I applaud the working group for tackling many of them directly. A number of questions still require consideration, and I look forward to being an active participant in the next steps toward a January approval.”

It is also important to note that nothing official in terms of the NCAA rulebook is in place after this NCAA announcement. The recommendation from the NCAA Board of Governors now moves to the rules committees for all NCAA sports and divisional levels for debate, change and voting. The NCAA is expected to adopt the new name, image and likeness rules by January but with COVID-19, it is unclear how and when a voting of the school presidents could take place.