NCAA Rule Changes Mean for Athletes and Schools

On July 1, the NCAA put into effect an interim policy that allows its student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL).

The ruling comes on the heels of several states creating similar laws that allow college athletes to monetize their NIL. For now, the NCAA has instructed schools and athletes to follow existing laws respective to the state where their institution is located and has asked those states without current NIL laws to create their own policies based on loose guidelines provided by the inter-collegiate organization.

Even before the rule change, any American had the right to earn money using his or her NIL, but college student-athletes had to forfeit those rights when they accepted their athletic scholarships. Now those athletes will be able to profit from companies that wish to use them to promote their business or product. 

Student-athletes will also be able to promote themselves in public or on social media by using their status as college athletes. To assist, athletes are now permitted to hire professional help like agents, lawyers and tax professionals. 

The NCAA rule change places responsibility on the individual schools for determining if NIL deals are consistent with state laws. Some states, for example, don’t allow schools to help athletes reach NIL deals and endorsements, while others do. In some states, any potential NIL deal must be disclosed with the school prior to the athlete signing. With each state able to create its own laws regarding the use of NIL, schools may be faced with the difficult challenge of keeping up with inconsistencies.

The NCAA hopes that eventually federal laws will be passed to establish uniform guidelines that will help simplify and clarify rules surrounding NIL, but members of Congress have yet to come to an agreement on what should be included in such a law. The NCAA is also concerned that if they were to create universal NIL rules for all schools and athletes, the organization could be hit with antitrust violation lawsuits. For the time being, then, NIL laws and rules will vary between states and schools all over the country.


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