The first law allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness is slated to take effect in July 2021.
The NCAA, the federal government and states have been planning for the shift, releasing piles of proposals. And an entire industry has materialized of third-party groups looking to also make money facilitating deals or educating stakeholders on how to complete them.
NIL Certainties and Uncertainties
The flurry of bills in state and federal circulation, as well as the NCAA’s proposed bylaw alterations, would mostly allow athletes to profit from NIL deals.
But the proposals vary widely on many details, including:
- Whether, and how much, athletic departments will be able to prohibit certain deals.
- Whether departments or the NCAA can cap how much money an athlete makes.
- Whether athletes could participate in group licensing deals.
What is clear, according to multiple experts who have spoken with FOS, is that there will be a lucrative market for women’s sports athletes and Olympic sports athletes, and that NIL rights will likely elevate their visibility.
2021 Outlook: Broader Payment Question
NIL’s approach has also elevated the fundamental question of whether schools should directly pay college athletes for playing.
The Supreme Court’s hearing of NCAA v. Alston could help settle this debate, as it will review a 9th Circuit Court ruling saying the governing body violated antitrust law by limiting the education-related benefits available to certain athletes.
Here’s what college sports lawyer Mit Winter told FOS could happen based on the Supreme Court’s ruling:
- “Depending on how broad the court’s ruling is, I think there could also be a new wave of litigation aimed at eliminating all of the NCAA’s restrictions on college athlete compensation.”
- “On the other hand, the Court could overrule the 9th Circuit’s decision and college athletes would be limited to the [cost of attendance] scholarships that were allowed before the 9th Circuit’s decision.”