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How the Name Image and Likeness Rule is Revolutionizing College Sports

Understanding the NIL rules for high school athletes and parents


Ball on Money

The NIL rule allows student-athletes to earn money from activities like endorsing products, developing their own merchandise, promoting services, and making event appearances.


The NIL rule has definitely shaken up the world of college sports. It's giving student-athletes the opportunity to earn money from their name, image, and likeness, which was previously prohibited by NCAA rules. This has led to exciting new partnerships and endorsement deals for athletes across various sports. However, there are also concerns about how this will affect the balance of power between schools and athletes and how it will impact the overall college sports landscape. It's definitely an interesting time in the world of college sports.


Proponents of the rule argue that it is a matter of fundamental fairness. College athletes are often the source of enormous revenue for their schools and the NCAA, yet they are not allowed to share in any of that money. Allowing athletes to profit off their own name and likeness would give them a measure of control over their own careers and financial futures.


Opponents of the rule argue that it will create a two-tiered system, with certain schools and athletes having an unfair advantage over others. They also worry that it will lead to the professionalization of college sports and a loss of the amateur spirit that makes them unique. Additionally, there are concerns about the potential for boosters and agents to exploit younger athletes who may not have the experience or knowledge to make informed decisions about their finances.


Overall, the NIL rule is a complex issue with no easy answers. While it is important to ensure that college athletes are treated fairly and allowed to profit from their talents, it is also important to consider the potential consequences of such a rule and how it could be exploited.


History of the Name Image and Likeness Rule

This timeline shows how the NIL rule has evolved over time, marking a significant shift in the landscape of college sports.


July 2009 - Ed O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, files a lawsuit against the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company. O’Bannon claims these organizations violated antitrust laws when his NIL was used without his permission in the EA Sports video game NCAA Basketball 09. He seeks an injunction allowing players to receive compensation for their NIL.


2009 – 2014 - 20 former athletes join O’Bannon as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.


August 2014 - District Judge Claudia Wilken of California rules in favor of O’Bannon and the other athletes. She found that the NCAA’s rules prohibiting athletes from profiting off their NIL do violate antitrust laws.


September 2019 - California becomes the first state to enact legislation on NIL when Governor Gavin Newsom signs “The Fair Pay to Play Act,” allowing athletes of any age to make money off their NIL. Other states follow suit in the months and years to come.


December 2019 - The NCAA begins to draft and solidify federal legislation regarding NIL rights.


June 2021 - The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rules against the NCAA and finds that NCAA restrictions on NIL activity violate antitrust laws. Days later, the NCAA temporarily changed its rules and opened the door for NIL activity - guiding individual colleges to create policies for their student-athletes.


July 2021 - The NCAA permanently changes its rules, now allowing athletes to profit from their NIL. Athletes begin acquiring sponsors and signing endorsements.


2022 - The NCAA Board of Directors issued NIL guidance to member schools, reinforcing the prohibition of recruiting incentives offered to student-athletes linked to potential NIL arrangements.


DIGGING DEEPER

The NCAA’s interim policy, which was passed in June 2021, has three main parts:

  1. Athletes can engage in NIL activities if they follow the state laws where their school is located. Schools must ensure these activities comply with state law.

  2. Athletes in states without NIL laws can still participate in NIL activities without breaking NCAA rules.

  3. Athletes are allowed to seek professional service providers for their NIL activities.


Here are a few examples of what student-athletes could now be paid for:

  • Autographs and memorabilia

  • Camps and clinics

  • Personal appearances

  • Merchandise

  • Affiliate/ambassador roles

  • Blogging

  • Podcasting

  • Public Speaking


NIL presents an exciting opportunity for high school and college athletes. Consider the following and begin preparing early to understand how NIL regulations could impact your future.

  • State Rules: Each state has its own NIL regulations. What’s allowed in one state may not be the same in another.

  • High School Rules: T]he NCAA allows high school student-athletes to monetize their NIL. Understand your high school or sports association’s rules to avoid violations.

  • Colleges Rules: You’ll also need to be aware of what your college or conference allows for NIL.

  • Know the Risks: Engaging in NIL activities in violation of the rules set by your state or high school sports association could jeopardize your eligibility to play college sports.

  • School and Sports: Prioritize your grades and sharpen your skills for Next Level competition.

  • Guidance: Ask for advice from NIL athletes and professionals to help you make intelligent choices.

  • Online Profile: Begin building your online presence on social media. Let college coaches and scouts know who you are and why you are the best fit for their program.

  • Stay Informed: NIL rules and regulations are constantly changing. Staying informed of developments and trends will help you make the best decisions for your personal situation.


High school sports associations are currently dealing with the challenges related to name, image, and likeness. In contrast to college student-athletes, high school athletes face more restrictions and may not be able to benefit from using their school's name or logo. The ability of high school athletes to profit from their NIL depends on the regulations established by their respective state associations, which can vary.


Need for Federal Law

The disparate state laws regarding NIL have led to calls for a federal law to ensure uniformity. The NCAA intends to work with federal congressional legislators to replace the interim policy with a single nationwide policy. At this point, there is no timeline for when that might happen. For now, athletes should continue to adhere to NIL rules set in their specific state, school, and association.


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