On June 30th, the NCAA voted to allow college athletes to “benefit from name, image and likeness opportunities, no matter where their school is located.” While there is currently only an interim policy on name, image, and likeness (NIL), this is a gamechanger in college athletics. This policy lets college athletes earn money. However, it is important to remember that student-athletes are students first. They do not get paid to play their sport because they are not professionals. However, now with NIL, college athletes can make money from endorsements, sponsorships, and social media. NIL does not let schools pay players to play a sport. What it does, though, is give players the opportunity to make money based on their brand. One of this policy’s biggest effects is how it changes recruiting. Potential college athletes want to go where their brand can be the biggest. The bigger their brand, the more money they are likely to obtain through NIL deals. This change can help many schools, but can also prove to be detrimental to others.
Because there currently is no federal NIL bill, some players have more financial opportunities than others only because of their school’s location. According to the National Collegiate Players’ Association, New Mexico’s NIL law gives students the most freedom while the laws in Alabama, Mississippi, and Illinois restrict them the most. Illinois has 12 restrictive aspects of its law including a market cap that can limit athletes’ NIL pay. The Illinois law does not allow NIL deals for recruits who sign with colleges until they enroll or start mandatory sports participation and also doesn’t allow NIL deals that continue after an athlete transfers.
While in the past, student-athletes considered the coaching staff, the facilities, the location, the conference & the academics of potential colleges, laws such as these have a significant impact on recruiting as athletes must consider NIL laws state-by-state if they hope to profit off of their brand.
NIL also will decrease the number of ‘1 and dones’ (athletes who only play one year in college), as they won’t have to go into professional sports in order to get paid. Finally, many players are using their NIL money for good use. For example, Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy is donating $10,500 of money earned from NIL to charity including $3,000 to those affected by the Oxford High School tragedy and $2,000 to Lurie Children’s Hospital here in Chicago.
All in all, the decision by the NCAA has forever changed the landscape of college athletics across the country, and the long term effects of such a policy will be interesting to see unfold in the coming years.