The NCAA voted to let college athletes profit off of their images and likenesses. Here’s what it all means.
To cut right to the chase, the NCAA board met on Tuesday and voted to allow the athletic side of things to figure out how to let the athletes profit off of their images and likenesses.
The NCAA didn’t necessarily do this out of the goodness of its heart – it’s trying to get ahead of the trend before it’s being all but forced to do this. It’s also doing this in an attempt to maintain some sort of control over the process.
The NCAA would like to ensure that student-athletes are able to have the same opportunities as other students when it comes to making money, however …
Other students don’t have the same opportunities that the student-athletes have.
So in a real-world application of what’s going to happen, here’s what this all means.
1. In the NCAA’s perfect world, a college athlete will get a cut.
Call it the video game/jersey sales aspect of this.
Having been a part of the video game creation world for several years, the world pretty much knew in the mid-to-late 2000’s who Florida’s big, tough-running, left-handed, quarterback with great intangibles and the number 15 was.
Now the NCAA is banking on 1) the players being generally unable to figure out how to actually get the money from things like this, and 2) that, overall, this just won’t be that be that big a deal.
After all, how many players are really going to get endorsement deals? The backup punter on Eastern Michigan isn’t going to start doing ads for Gatorade, which is why …
2. This … is … the … answer.
And it always has been.
This is the perfect world for the NCAA and the colleges. Now, the schools don’t actually have to pay the players a salary. They can let the market dictate who gets what, so no, a school doesn’t have to figure out what to pay the Heisman-caliber quarterback compared to the third-string long snapper. Even better for the NCAA and the schools, this does a big end-around the whole Title IX issue of having to pay male and female athletes equally.
3. This opens a box that can’t be closed.
You can’t theoretically or reasonably legislate what’s coming. There is no way to install “guard rails” that make any workable sense, like Ohio representative Anthony Gonzalez wants to do.
What is and isn’t “profiting off of likeness and image?”
Is it doing an ad for Bud Light? Is it being able to get a cut off of appearances? Is it getting a house from an agent?
Or is it a way that anyone can play any player an athlete for anything?
I keep going to the Phil Knight example. What if the Oregon super-booster wanted to create an all-star team, and tells recruits that if they come to Eugene, they’d be featured in a Nike ad?
What if he wants the next Zion, and says he’ll create a shoe for him? That’s all kosher, no matter what the NCAA is going to try to say.
It’s also going to be 100% fine for Jim Bob Booster to tell a recruit that if he comes to XYZ State, he’ll be featured in the next Jim Bob Booster car dealership ad campaign and get a free car.
And what’s to define image and likeness?
What if JB Booster simply wants to give a bag of cash to a kid while signing him to some deal that gets him on some promotional poster?
You say tomato, I say tomato. Profiting off of likeness and image is profiting off of likeness and image.
And if you think that’s going to be interesting …
4. The transfer portal is either going to have to be closed, tweaked, changed, or LOOK … OUT.
Basically, the NCAA is going to have to change the entire transfer world in a hurry, or everyone is going to be macking it hard after everyone else’s players more than they currently do.
Just imagine what a Jalen Hurts or Justin Fields would’ve fetched on the open market if he was promised ad deals, endorsements, etc.
What’s going to happen the second a quarterback gets benched? As it is now, lose a preseason quarterback derby, and it’s transfer portal time.
The NCAA either has to tweak the transfer portal, be in the agent regulation business, or both, because there’s no possible way the organization can – or should – be involved in every transaction that will inevitably come down to the student-athlete being able to profit off of his or her likeness and image.
And finally …
5. It’s a good thing. Really.
This will get figured out fast.
What this mainly does is take what has always been demonized as wrong and illegal by the NCAA and makes everyone realize that there’s just nothing that bad about an athlete profiting off of his or her talents.
There will be those who cry and whine about the notion of amateurism going away, but that was always a farce.
It’s going to keep more players in college, since some will be able to profit and won’t have to leave early for the NFL. It will allow players to make money by being who they are, and not just make gobs and gobs of cash for the coaches, schools, and NCAA.
The schools don’t have to go into crushing debt to pay for a quarterback – if you think there’s bad paper on extended coaching contracts, just imagine if the schools had to pay players – they can do the endorsement deals they were always forbidden from doing, and the ugly side of how the college sports world works can come from out of the shadows.
At the end of the day, you’re still going to get Alabama vs. LSU. You’re still going to get the NCAA Tournament. You’re still going to get the big games and all of the fun.
It’s all going to be just fine.