NCAA Rules Student-Athletes Can Profit from Image
Pandora’s Box has now been opened. The NCAA ruled that student-athletes may now own their NIL (Name, Image & Likeness). The ruling seems like it would be a common sense decision and it should be but it’s not.
The reason that it is not a slam dunk decision is, some institutions will use it as a recruiting advantage. The richest institutions will have the richest athletes. Boosters with deep pockets will again use their business to support their beloved institution of higher learning and even better football. One college administrator commented, “the Wild West of recruiting with bags of cash is now legal.”
After spending most of my last twenty years as a Division I college administrator, I’m torn on this subject and actually have very strong opinions on both sides of this argument. Personally, I’d rather see the student-athletes get money at Alabama than Nick Saben and his coaches. However, at the University at Albany, like most mid-major Division I programs, their high level sports are not profitable, so now they are going to have to pony up more money to give student-athletes, who are already going to their institutions on scholarship? None of that doesn’t make sense to me. At some point this is college athletics and should be financed as such.
If an institution wants to use the image of a scholarship student-athlete to promote ticket sales to that student-athlete’s event, should the institution have to pay that student-athlete for that image usage? Aren’t they already paying the student-athlete providing, in many cases, room and board, books and tuition?
On the other hand, if EA Sports or any other business, outside of the collegiate institution wants to use a student-athlete’s name, likeness or image, shouldn’t they be able to market themselves in a free market? Isn’t that their right?
The issue, like any other time that money is involved, is dishonesty. It is going to happen. The NCAA and most every collegiate institution in America can just hope to mitigate it.