Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rights for college athletes has been a hot-button issue over the past few years, and it will only increase in prominence as July 1st approaches. On that day, Florida will be the first state to have a law going into effect allowing college athletes to profit from their own NIL. Five other states currently have laws on the books with varied dates of effectiveness, and many others are in progress.
The NCAA has resisted the idea of letting student-athletes make money in this way, but the association has gradually moved in the direction of relaxing those restrictions. All three divisions were set to vote on the issue at the 2021 NCAA convention happening this week, but the vote has been indefinitely delayed. One reason for the delay is that the NCAA proposal places certain restrictions on how athletes can make money through NIL. The U.S. Department of Justice has told the NCAA that any rules must follow antitrust laws and should not unlawfully restrict trade. The NCAA proposal places restrictions on NIL activity, and there will be new leadership in the Justice Department one week from now. How the incoming administration interprets what the NCAA wants to do will determine if the NCAA’s plan to place restrictions on its athletes is legal or is an antitrust violation caused by schools conspiring to limit student-athlete earnings.
Senators Cory Booker (CO) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) are sponsors of a wide-ranging reform bill for college athletics, and the delay from the NCAA caused them to release the following statement:
“Fair compensation delayed is fair compensation denied. Yet again, the NCAA has missed an opportunity to finally do right by college athletes. The NCAA’s delay reinforces the need for Congress and individual states to move forward with legislative remedies that will provide college athletes with rights that the NCAA continues to neglect. NCAA’s disappointing decision further fuels our commitment to passing a strong College Athletes Bill of Rights that will truly advance justice and opportunity for college athletes.”