College athletics is a big deal at many campuses. Football, basketball, hockey and more have students lining up hours in advance just to buy tickets. Sporting events like March Madness draw millions of viewers of all ages, and NCAA Division I athletes become top draft picks for the NFL, NBA and other sports organizations. These student athletes can become celebrities in their own rights, but have never been able to leverage their success to make money – until now.
The NCAA is considering new recommendations that would allow student athletes in all three divisions to make money off of their name, image and likeness, or NIL. This means that, for the first time, student athletes can be compensated by third-party endorsements, social media influencing, meet and greets and more.
Arguments for and against paying student athletes have been ongoing for many years. The NCAA opposed paying student athletes a salary and has blocked them from making money on the side in the way many pro athletes do, even though many Division I athletes work just as hard as their professional counterparts. Colleges and universities both within conferences (like the Big Ten) and without make millions of dollars through their athletic programs every year, and while they do give generous sports scholarships, student athletes have never received a cut of the profits that they generate for their institutions.
The new ruling, which is expected to be voted on this October, comes with a few stipulations. Students may promote themselves as members of a college team, but they cannot use any school or conference intellectual property in their advertisements. Schools and conferences cannot be their students’ agents either – students will have to seek out endorsements and vet opportunities on their own. And any money they earn cannot go towards paying for college or for continued participation in school sports. Still, these changes could be a huge boon for student athletes. If passed, they could start making money off their NIL starting in the 2021-22 school year.
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