As of July 1, 2021 several states’ law permitted collegiate student-athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). That was the moment any potential NCAA enforcement regarding NIL came to a screeching halt. The NCAA can not overrule state law from any of the 38 states that have (or will have) a law on the books. Essential, each state (and the universities in those states) has a different set of laws and policies which to abide by. Considering the nuances that go into writing state laws, is enforcement or accountability feasible at this point?
One of the major concerns from coaches and administrators is that NIL agreements could be used to entice prospective and current student-athletes to attend specific institutions. Generally speaking, that is not supposed to be happening but realistically, is there any good way to prevent that scenario at this moment? Most administrators would agree that at the moment, there is a lack of accountability surrounding NIL and any enforcement.
At the moment, there is college football prospect that reportedly signed a NIL contract worth potentially $8million. This is happening before his graduation.
Another glaring issue related to NIL is the student-athletes themselves. A large number of student-athletes do not compete for universities in their home state and can receive NIL agreements from companies from across the United States. Therefore, which state law is most applicable in the scenario? I like most people, genuinely don’t know. There are countless nuances like this one in which there is no clear answer.
The states that do not have laws governing NIL for college student-athletes, leave it up to the institutions to decide how to proceed. In states like Utah, athletic departments are permitted to help find student-athletes NIL deals. And of course, nothing could go wrong with that situation.
(This is a look at each of the state laws concerning NIL)
Administrators are looking to the NCAA to figure out a way to create NIL enforcement but it appears that after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the NCAA v. Alston case, they are reluctant to create any hard and fast laws. The general thought is that the NCAA is looking for Congress to step in. Ropes and Gray said that the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce (which held hearings on NIL) has not introduced any new legislation and all previous introduced bills have stalled. Which given the way Congress operates, is not surprising.
What happens next?
Again, another good question but unfortunately, there is no good answer. The reality of any federal legislation governing NIL of college student-athletes does not seem likely (at least in the foreseeable future). This leaves those state law (of lack thereof) in-tact for time being. There seems to be no agency keen on enforcing NIL laws or policies, which leaves student-athlete (or their representatives) free to do whatever they want.
Let’s just hope that student-athletes are making good decisions and setting themselves up for future success because at the moment, enforcement doesn’t seem to be a real thing. We are going to have to wait and see what will happen next. That is anyone’s guess.