For the majority of the history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), student-athletes have endured a total ban on profiting from their roles as student-athletes. With the exception of certain scholarships and amenities provided by their schools, student-athletes could not enter into marketing agreements and contracts with businesses intended to capitalize on their athletic fame.
That has recently changed. The NCAA now has a new rule allowing students to make money from their name, image and likeness (NIL) through licensing agreements. Those currently enrolled in college and performing as a student-athlete can seek sponsorships and endorsements from local or national businesses as a means of enriching themselves and building a personal brand while competing at the collegiate level.
Earning a solid stream of income can set a student athlete up for the future, but it can also lead to challenges. Should educational institutions limit NIL income for students?
The rules allow for some institutional control
More successful student-athletes may eventually donate to a college or university in the future and contribute to its overall fame should they go on to professional athletics. Therefore, educational institutions have an interest in attracting the best talent and keeping them on good terms with the school for as long as possible. However, that does not necessarily mean that every educational institution should simply allow student-athletes to secure any endorsements or marketing agreements that they can without oversight. Educational institutions have the right under NCAA rules to require that student-athletes report any contracts and earnings.
Schools can also add terms to their student-athlete codes of conduct that specifically limit total endorsement value or prohibit certain types of marketing arrangements. For example, schools might have rules preventing students from advertising for adult-oriented brands, like those that sell alcohol. Educational institutions could also limit NIL contracts, as marketing requirements and contractual obligations could eventually take away from a student’s academic and athletic performance.
Changing NCAA policy requires colleges to do the same
Now that the NCAA has drastically shifted its policy on one of the most contentious issues facing student-athletes and educational institutions, many schools will need to make major revisions to their existing contracts and handbooks for students, student athletes and athletic professionals. Remaining informed about changing NCAA policy can help schools avoid scenarios in which student-athletes harm the institution’s reputation or culture through money-making efforts.