By Michelle Meyer
In February, I read over 200 articles about Name, Image, and Likeness so you don’t have to. Here’s what you need to know:
More Federal Bills
February brought another federal bill proposal to the table — this one presented by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas). The “Amateur Athletes Protection and Compensation Act” is similar to other federal proposals in that collegiate athletes could monetize their NIL through endorsement deals and camp sponsorships, or hire an agent to represent them. However, they would be prohibited from endorsing brands or industries that violate student conduct codes. Additionally, the bill would preempt state NIL laws, allow athletes to transfer without penalty, and require colleges to pay an athlete’s out of pocket medical costs.
Moran’s bill is silent on a few important topics that other proposals include: Antitrust immunity for the NCAA and group licensing (aka the video game concern).
INFLCR and Opendorse Early Leaders
NIL Network analyzed the Power 5 conferences to find out which universities already had partnerships in place to help their athletes optimize their NIL. INFLCR, which is a digital platform where institutions upload content for athletes to repost on their personal channels, is the clear leader. The company has partnerships with 57% of Power 5 schools, serves more than 850 NCAA teams, and is utilized daily by over 30,000 collegiate athletes. Opendorse is the second largest with 11 partnerships (17% of the Power 5 schools).
A bit disheartening is that while 51 of the 65 Power 5 schools have a publicized partnership, only 21 have openly stated that these resources are available to all of their athletes. I’m hoping that the athletic departments will expand to include all sports once they see the ROI from the initial programs included.
Additionally, some universities took it a step further and built programs specific to their athletic department that will give all of their student-athletes resources beyond access to a digital platform. Whether they did it altrustrically or as a recruiting strategy is ok by me. Shout out to University of Illinois, University of Maryland, University of Nebraska, University of Arizona, and University of Washington!
Student-Athletes Have NIL Concerns
The “Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics” conducted a study investigating Power 5 athletes and their ideas around the upcoming NIL changes. While the majority (71%) were in favor of compensation for the use of their NIL, 45% had concerns that it could affect team culture in a negative way and 51% thought it could create a divide among teams. Overall, women were less in favor of NIL and more concerned about the effects on team culture than their male counterparts.
Furthermore, a high percentage of athletes noted that more education about NIL is necessary with one athlete stating, “there are so many questions and I don’t even know where to begin.”
EA Sports Has ADs Picking Sides
At the beginning of February, EA Sports announced that they will be releasing a new College Football video game. While they didn’t announce a timeline, or even an anticipated year, EA sports has partnered with Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) to make sure it has the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools, traditions, uniforms and playbooks ready to go for over 100 teams. At this time, they are planning to move forward without using the actual athlete’s image and likeness as they previously have.
This announcement opened up a huge PR opportunity for athletic directors of FBS schools: To participate or not to participate.
Notre Dame made headlines on February 22 when it announced it would not be participating until their football athletes could benefit financially from the video game. Since then, other universities have made similar public statements including Tulane, Fresno State, TCU, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and USC.
While not participating until their athletes can monetize their NIL appears to be looking out for their players’ best interests, the earliest projected timeline for the game is summer of 2022. If NIL rules aren’t already in effect by then, we are in a heap of trouble beyond a college football video game. It seems to me that these PSAs are just an opportunity to be on the “right” side of history, and that these schools will most likely be featured once the game is released.
The more time that passes with silence from the NCAA, the more chaotic and tangled NIL becomes. It seems that every week, state NIL bills continue progressing, more NIL companies pop up, and new federal bills get proposed or amended. With the Supreme Court set to hear the Alston case at the end of March, hopefully my next monthly review will have updates from the NCAA that will provide more clarity on NIL direction and a timeline for implementation. However, I won’t hold my breath. Stay tuned and follow along on Instagram for daily updates and articles to check out!