By Michael Kinney
The world of college athletics was put into a tailspin when the NCAA made seismic shift concerning the way athlete’s ability to earn money. The NCAA’s new policy surrounding an athlete’s name, image and likeness (NIL) is bound to be a money maker for a small group of students and a bunch of companies, schools and boosters.
The NCAA announced that college athletes will have the opportunity to benefit financially from their name, image and likeness beginning July 1. Governance bodies in all three divisions (I, II, III) adopted a uniform interim policy suspending NCAA name, image and likeness rules for all incoming and current student-athletes in all sports.
In simple terms, college athletes can now make money without being penalized by the NCAA and lose their amateur status. That includes being able to make money off endorsements, sponsorships, camps, appearances, etc.
Any athlete at any NCAA-affiliated school falls under this umbrella. Whether it’s the giants like the University of Oklahoma or a much smaller Southern Nazarene, it doesn’t matter.
“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. “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.”
According to the new policy, individuals can engage in NIL activities that are consistent with the law of the state where the school is located and Colleges and universities may be a resource for state law questions. College athletes who attend a school in a state without a NIL law can engage in this type of activity without violating NCAA rules related to name, image and likeness.
Athletes can also use a professional services provider for NIL activities. That includes getting an agent, which had been outlawed in the past.
It didn’t take long for some of the top athletic programs in the country to jump on board. In fact, it seems like many of them had been preparing for this new shift for quite a while.
The University of Oklahoma announced it they were entering into a partnership with INFLCR to assist with NIL monitoring, education and media support.
According to a statement from OU, under this partnership, INFLCR will serve OU’s Foundry Program, specifically designed for NIL, with monitoring and media support systems while also complementing the education program.
INFLCR’s NIL team will assist college athletic departments in the implementation of content, compliance and recruiting strategies.
Oklahoma State also announced it was partnering with INFLCR.
To compete for top recruits, Colleges and universities will now have to show they are an institution that attracts companies looking to endorse athletes. Some programs have already handed out literature to athletes that show how they can use the school as a bargaining tool when negotiating with companies, restaurants or memorabilia companies.
Currently, as the rule stands, if state laws allow it, an athlete can start their own business and still use the college mascot or logos to promote their new venture. As of now, that is still against the rules for institutions in Oklahoma. However, other states such as Louisiana have already made it legal. This move could be a game-changer for the Tigers and force other states to do the same if they want to compete for elite players.
The day after the policy change went into effect, LSU football sent out a social post that contained the phrase “Maximize your personal brand on college football’s greatest stage.”
Oklahoma did not even wait that long. July 1, their first Tweet was titled “Household Names” and it showed the photos and social media numbers of current and former Sooners who have blown up on social media.
Increasing a player’s brand presence could become as important as chasing a title when it comes to recruiting. It already is bigger than getting an education sadly.
OSU posted a similar take with its “Build Your Own Brand” posting when announcing the NIL was in effect in Stillwater. Building a player’s brand will now be on par with winning a title as far a recruiting pitch.
In the first week since the policy change went into action, it has been the wild, wild west. Incoming Tennessee State freshman basketball player Hercy Miller, son of rap icon Master P, signed a $2 million endorsement deal with a Webb Apps America.
Haley and Hanna Cavinder of Fresno State signed several deals, including one with Boost Mobile. But it’s their large following on the social media platform that may see them reach six-figure status.
Dan Lambert, a University of Miami booster signed every scholarship football player to an NIL agreement that will pay them $500 a month to sign autographs. It will cost the booster more than $540,000.
Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler was not only able to sign an endorsement deal with Canes Chicken and Cameo, but he also created his own apparel company that will showcase his brand logo, a pair of rattle snakes shaped into his initials.
“I am excited for the opportunities ahead with name, image and likeness,” Rattler posted on Twitter. “This is a great new era for college athletes. At the same time, we must continue to prioritize academics and athletics. “We as players must use our platform and this new NIL opportunity to do good in the world.”
Other intriguing deals include the University of Arkansas offensive line signing with a BBQ chain, Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and his art-work deal with Nike and Arkansas wideout Trey Knox partnering with PetSmart.
This is what proponents of college athletes being paid have clamored for the past decade. If athletes are allowed to go on the free market like any other business, men and women have an opportunity to
make money that can benefit them and their families.
However, if we are being honest with each other, it’s only the top one percent of student athletes who will actually benefit from the new rules. The big-name quarterbacks, star men’s basketball players and a few select stars in other sports are the ones who will actually see their bank accounts change and their brand grow.
The overwhelming rest of the athletes will never see a dime, unless it is given to them by the one or two teammates who did get paid.
Copyright Michael Kinney Media