Six takeaways from the latest NIL proposal
According to a report in Sports Illustrated, the NCAA has presented its latest draft of name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation to the Division I Council, the next step in allowing players and potentially recruits as well to earn compensation.
This is not a surprising move since there have been years of discussion on the topic, including numerous Congressional hearings, but this could be one of the final stages before rules could be implemented.
Here are six takeaways on the Sports Illustrated report and where we go from here.
1. The NCAA proposals could be voided by Congress
The NCAA's proposal is a positive step for those who support NIL compensation but it’s expected to be replaced when Congress passes its own legislation, which is fully expected, mainly because the NCAA has asked for assistance in that regard.
One of the biggest points of emphasis during numerous Congressional hearings is that many elected officials and numerous witnesses testifying believed guidelines from a national approach would be needed basically so Florida could not have different NIL rules than Illinois, etc. Having this legislation from the NCAA as a starting point could be incredibly valuable as Congress works through its own rules but it might not be long-lasting since Congressional rules would invalidate any NCAA guidelines.
2. Camps and private lessons could be very lucrative
Part of the NCAA legislation is that athletes could be compensated off of running camps and doing private lessons. After reporting on this topic for a weeklong series earlier this year, it appeared experts in the NIL space felt players could make tremendous amounts of money running their own camps and now providing individual lessons if that doesn’t run astray of the NCAA guidelines. Imagine something like the Trevor Lawrence Quarterback Camp or the Penei Sewell Lineman Camp or the Najee Harris Running Back Camp. Recruits and even younger players would flock to see not only their favorite college stars but to learn some tricks of the trade. If Harris ran that camp near Tuscaloosa or Lawrence taught young quarterbacks somewhere in South Carolina or his native Georgia, NIL experts believe the money could come pouring in.
3. Social media campaigns could trump commercials
When I first started reporting on this topic, it seemed likely that commercial campaigns could make athletes lots of money but many NIL experts threw cold water on that idea once they considered other ways players could get paid. Especially during a health pandemic where advertising budgets are being slashed, will a local car dealership or restaurant have excess funds to pay college athletes for commercials? Probably not.
But bigger corporations and other large businesses are scaling up their digital advertising spend across the board and that’s where college athletes could get paid - by doing social media campaigns for whatever product or brand conceivable, as long as it doesn’t interfere with something the university has in place, according to the NCAA legislation. It seems more likely that quarterback Trey Lance, for example, would be engaged in broader and more popular social media campaigns than simply a car commercial for a dealership near the North Dakota State campus.
4. Autograph sessions will bring in the dough
Through reporting on this topic, there seemed to be varying opinions on how lucrative autograph sessions would be for players, some experts believing it would be minimal but others opining that it could be one of the best ways for athletes to make NIL money. One example that an expert used was the third-string right guard at Nebraska is still the biggest - and maybe the most popular - person in their hometown. Returning home and having everyone come through for a $5 or $10 autograph could add up quickly. If USC quarterback Kedon Slovis did an autograph session in Los Angeles, that might not go over. But return to Scottsdale, Ariz., and lots of people could show up.
Imagine what kind of money could be made in rabid college football towns and hometowns of players - popular or not - on those teams. It would also be very little actual effort to make it happen as well with a business manager of sorts scheduling them.
5. Allowing involvement of agents will get interesting
According to the SI report, agents would be allowed in deals but only for three reasons: to offer advice for NIL deals, to help market a player’s NIL ventures and to help in contract negotiations. That is particularly interesting since the NCAA has always tried to keep agents at an arm’s length from college athletes. Allowing them to be involved in NIL transactions and marketing of athletes could be rife with other questions, could lead to campaigns of influence to stay with those particular agents after college and it invites more opinions into what an athlete should do or where he should play. Allowing agents to be involved in this is worthy of debate but it could also add an extra layer to an already-convoluted situation.
6. Letting college recruits engage in NIL could change recruiting
One of the biggest surprises in the report was that college recruits would be able to make NIL money and that boosters are allowed to engage with athletes when it comes to NIL as long as no improper inducements or extra benefits are provided. Recruits would also have to disclose all deals before signing with a school but that leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
For example, could a prospect work with boosters from numerous programs, what exactly is an “improper inducement” and how would all those chefs in the kitchen change how the recruiting process works? Would prospects be influenced to attend a specific school where potential NIL money would be greatest, even if it’s not the best situation over the long term?
The recruiting process, how it works, what intrigues recruits, and the entire dynamic of signing players is changing and morphing all the time. Introducing NIL money to high school recruits will drastically change how things operate now.