The NCAA Division I Council voted this past week to implement new regulations aimed increasing "protections" afforded to student-athletes concerning their name, image, and likeness (NIL). These rules shift control to athletic departments and teams on campus, thereby placing constraints on student-athlete autonomy. Notably, schools and associated NIL collectives are still prohibited from negotiating deals with recruits or transfers before their enrollment.
Commencing in August, individuals entering into NIL deals will be mandated to register with the NCAA, providing details about their agreements. Additionally, the organization intends to introduce new contract standards and deliver education on NIL matters to both athletes and institutions.
Student-athletes are obligated to disclose information related to NIL agreements exceeding $600 in value to their schools within 30 days of entering or signing the NIL agreement. The NCAA will use that information to develop an aggregated database to help schools and athletes have a more realistic picture of the going rates for endorsement deals. The council's decision establishes a consistent national requirement, aligning with over 20 state laws already mandating similar disclosures.
Additionally, the NCAA plans to create a voluntary registration process for NIL service providers, such as agents and financial advisors. This registry, based on feedback from athletes who have worked with these providers, aims to centralize credible and trusted agents while assisting student-athletes in making informed decisions. Details will be finalized and overseen by a committee yet to be determined, ensuring alignment with student-athletes' needs.
Collaborating with schools, the NCAA aims to provide education on contractual obligations, including the development of a template contract and recommended terms. This initiative seeks to ensure student-athletes and their families make informed decisions about NIL agreements. Ongoing general education and resources will be extended to support student-athletes and those assisting student-athletes on policies, rules, and best practices pertaining to NIL. This education will also be extended to other key stakeholders.
Morgyn Wynne, Vice Chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and former softball student-athlete at Oklahoma State, expressed confidence in the council's actions. She stated that the standardized contract recommendations and voluntary registration of service providers will boost student-athletes' confidence as they explore NIL opportunities. Wynee emphasized "Division I student-athletes in many states are already reporting the details of their NIL agreements. Disclosing that same information to schools — which would later be shared with the NCAA for the purposes of identifying trends — will offer student-athletes the benefit of better understanding about what a reasonable agreement might be for them."
Despite the NCAA's recent steps toward NIL regulations, which appear to address the need for enhanced protections, these new rules and the shift in control back to athletic departments may inadvertently restrict the autonomy of student-athletes. As the landscape of NIL policies continues to evolve, it remains to be seen whether these changes balance safeguarding athletes' interests and preserving their individual freedoms. The true impact of these regulations will unfold in the coming months, raising questions about whether the NCAA's quest for oversight may unintentionally infringe upon the very essence of student-athlete independence in NIL decisions.
Madelyn Feyko is a 2L at the Hofstra Law and is the Vice President of Sports for the Sports and
Entertainment Law Society. She can be found on LinkedIn at the following link:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/madelyn-feyko-8942b520a/ or on Twitter @madelyn_feyko.