On October 26, the Division I Board of Directors released new guidance detailing what is permissible and impermissible for a college or university to provide for student-athletes’ name, image, and likeness (NIL) activities. The new guidance provides specific examples of permissible and impermissible conduct, but the question remains: how will Division I enforce violations of the policy?
The new guidance primarily broke institutional involvement into four categories:
institutional education and monitoring;
institutional support for student-athlete NIL activity;
institutional support for NIL entity/collective; and
negotiating, revenue sharing, and compensating.
Institutional Education and Monitoring
Notably, in this category, Division I did not detail any impermissible activities. For permissible activities, education sessions for student-athletes, NIL entities (including collectives), boosters, and prospective student-athletes are allowed. Thus, Division I does not have any qualms with a college or university educating parties that may take part in NIL activities.
Institutional Support for Student-Athlete NIL Activity.
Here, Division I makes it clear that a college or university can notify a student-athlete of NIL opportunities, including providing contact information to an entity and arranging space for an entity and student-athlete to meet. However, the college or university cannot provide services (including contract reviews and tax preparation), develop (including promotional materials), or implement a student-athletes NIL opportunity unless the benefit is available to the student body.
Many student-athletes do not disclose NIL activities to their institution. Therefore, despite having guidance permitting colleges and universities to support student-athletes in their NIL opportunities, it is unclear how many institutions will take advantage of offering services or implementing NIL opportunities.
Institutional Support for NIL Entity/Collective
Interestingly, under the new guidance, Division I will allow staff members to assist entities in raising money, provide donor information, and even request a donor provide funds to an entity (as long as the funds are not for a specific sport or athlete). Impermissible activities include providing tickets to a donor for providing funds to an entity and donating to an entity.
The biggest surprise is allowing institution members to request a donor provide funds to an entity. Now, athletic departments, booster clubs, and collectives can work together to enhance their standing amongst student-athletes and prospective student-athletes.
Negotiating, Revenue Sharing, and Compensating
Unlike the institutional educating and monitoring category, this category lists only impermissible activities. Here, Division I is making it clear that institutions (and their staff members) cannot be involved in negotiating or compensating student-athletes. Due to the optics of pay-for-play, this is rather unsurprising.
Other Item to Note
The Division I Board of Directors adopted a new standard for reviewing potential violations. Now, when the enforcement staff will “presume a violation occurred unless the school clearly demonstrates that the behaviors in question were in line with existing NCAA rules and the interim policy.” Thus, Division I puts the burden on the institution to prove that violations of the interim NIL policy did not occur.
While any guidance clarifying an institution’s role under the interim NIL policy is helpful, with a minimal enforcement staff and institutions all over the country, the longstanding issue remains: how will Division I enforce violations of the policy?