With a variety of state laws allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness set to go into effect on Thursday, and more on the horizon, the NCAA Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a measure allowing NIL income at all its member schools.
College athletes from all divisions and in all sports can now draw on their name recognition to create revenue from product endorsements, autographed memorabilia and all manner of other promotional opportunities. They'll be permitted to engage in formal agreements with agents to procure those endorsements, and some agents believe the revenue could be strong enough, in certain cases, to persuade NFL prospects to remain in school rather than enter the draft early.
The move helps avoid what the NCAA feared would be a threat to competitive integrity in the permission of NIL income in some states but not others. It is a ground-breaking move on the NCAA's part, in that it dismantles a key element of its amateurism model; previously, student-athletes risked losing their eligibility for engaging in NIL profit opportunities.
"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 stated in a release posted to NCAA.org. "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."
The NCAA termed the new policy as an interim measure, as it will continue to press Congress for a federal law that would eliminate the differences between state laws.
The policy also seeks to prohibit "pay for play" or any NIL payments used as an inducement for an athlete to attend a particular school. That could prove difficult to enforce, however, as could provisions in state law that call for NIL payments to be commensurate with market value.