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Critics Argue NCAA's Latest NIL Proposals Fall Short

Jason Scott

The NCAA released a list of suggested proposals to allow for student-athletes to make money from use of their name, image and likeness on Friday.

According to USA Today, the proposed rule changes would allow student-athletes “to promote  … athletically and nonathletically related business activities (e.g., products, services, personal appearances).” They would limit the athletes’ ability to promote things with institutional marks or logos, however. The proposed changes will be voted on by the NCAA Division I Council when the group meets for its annual convention in January. 

Despite the measures put forth by the association, lawmakers said the rules changes didn’t go far enough. U.S. senator Richard Blumenthal issued a statement to USA Today, calling the proposals “functionally useless,” because of the limits and restrictions the association put on certain activity. Blumenthal lamented that should the changes go into effect, they “will do little to change the current exploitive state of college athletics."

Meanwhile, state-level lawmakers, who have played a key role in getting the NCAA to recognize the urgency of the situation, said they would continue to move toward legislation. California state senator Nancy Skinner, who authored what became known as the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” issued a statement of her own after the NCAA proposals were unveiled, calling them inadequate.

“I’m heartened to see that the NCAA is finally following California’s lead to allow college athletes to make money from their talent and hard work,” Skinner’s statement read. “It’s a long-overdue step in the right direction. But, unfortunately, the NCAA’s proposal still comes up short. It doesn’t give college athletes the autonomy and full range of benefits that SB 206 [the Fair Pay to Play Act] does. So I call on the NCAA Board of Governors to refine this proposal before carrying it across the finish line and ensure that the ownership of their name and likeness, a right every other student and all other Americans enjoy, is restored to every college athlete.”

Florida state representative Chip LaMarca, who authored that state’s NIL law, expressed a similar sentiment, writing on Twitter, “Sadly, the NCAA failed again & the states must continue to pass #NIL laws until the Feds create a solution."

Among the limitations on NIL activity the NCAA proposals include are:

  • Preventing the promotion of products or services that conflict with NCAA legislation (i.e., no banned substances or sports betting).
  • Blocking sports equipment companies from using a student-athlete to promote the fact that the institution or team uses its equipment.
  • Allowing schools to block student-athletes from engaging in NIL activities that would conflict with existing sponsorship agreements at the institutional level.

Such limitations, critics argue, would narrow the opportunities for a student-athlete to earn money through use of their name, image and likeness so heavily so as they essentially would be blocked from doing so.  

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