The NAIA has become the first college sports organization to allow student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness.

This action takes effect immediately.

As a result, an NAIA student-athlete will be permitted to be compensated if they are promoting a local business, providing instruction, signing autographs, or making an appearance on a radio show, as examples.

This does NOT mean that NAIA student-athletes will be able to receive compensation from their university (other than the value of their scholarship).

However, they will be allowed to identify themselves as a student-athlete and can name their university in any promotional activities or appearances, while also being able to receive payment for those activities.

If you have any questions regarding this topic, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The NAIA national office recently announced that they “…intend to proceed with our winter championship dates and locations as scheduled.” This decision was based on a survey of NAIA athletic directors and presidents, as well as input from winter host sites.

Start dates for winter sport seasons will be left up to the discretion of colleges and conferences, as requested by 74% of the AD’s and presidents surveyed. Also, the national office “…is not restricting practice or competition during the holiday break in an effort to allow institutions to manage the season in a way that works best for them.”

NCAA Division I championships for Fall sports will be moved to the Spring based on recommendations from the Division I Council which were approved by the Board of Directors on Tuesday.

As part of those recommendations, emergency legislation was also adopted that will prohibit midyear Fall sport enrollees from competing this Spring.

This will prevent a potential rush of athletes who may be participating in their sport at their current university this Fall, and then want to transfer at mid-year to compete in the same Fall sport at another university in the Spring.

Championship brackets in team sports will be filled with 75% of the normal number of qualifying teams. In addition, any contests completed this Fall will count toward championship qualification and can be considered by the selection committees.

Here are the schedules that have been established by the NCAA for Division I Fall sports teams to compete and qualify for championship selection in the Spring:

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country – Regular season competition is currently scheduled for Jan. 30 to March 5, with the championship scheduled for March 15. (Note: Due to concerns about athletes potentially competing in cross country, and then also indoor and outdoor track in the Spring, this scheduling is open to revision.)

Field Hockey – Regular season competition is scheduled for Feb. 12 to April 23, with semifinals and finals set for May 7-9.

FCS Football – 16 teams can qualify for playoffs to be conducted from April 18 to May 15. Up to 8 regular season games can be played within a period of 13 weeks to allow for weather conditions, COVID postponements and other factors. The championship will take place in mid-May.

Also, during this academic year FCS teams can have either “Fall ball” or “Spring practice” but not both. (FCS teams choosing to play in the Spring will be limited to 15 on-field practices this Fall.) FCS programs must declare when they are going to play their first game before they can begin practice this Fall.

Men’s and Women’s Soccer – Regular season will be Feb. 3 to April 17, with postseason selections on April 18. Finals will take place May 13-17.

Women’s Volleyball – Regular season will be Jan. 22 to April 3, with postseason selections on April 4. The semifinal and final will take place April 23-25.

Men’s Water Polo – Regular season will be Jan. 16 to March 6, with postseason selections on March 7. Semifinals and finals on March 19-21.

Just hours after the announcement on Wednesday by the NCAA Board of Governors directing the three divisions to “…safeguard student-athlete well-being, scholarships, and eligibility…,” Divisions II and III announced that they are cancelling championships in Fall sports.

At the time of that announcement, 11 of the 23 Division II conferences had already announced that they will not compete during the Fall season.

The NCAA Board of Governors recently received a lengthy 31-page report from the “Federal and State Legislation Working Group” suggesting broad recommendations for new rules that will permit student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness.

When approved, student-athletes will be able to accept payment within the NCAA rules for a wide range of activities. However, many details remain to be proposed, discussed and finalized.

Some of the basic guidelines for development of these new rules include:

  • Student-athletes will not be paid for these types of activities by their respective schools or conferences, or by the NCAA.
  • Student-athletes should have the same opportunities as the general student body to be compensated for their particular skills, ability, and name recognition except when there are compelling reasons to the contrary. (Examples: I’m sure that athletes will not be allowed to promote tobacco products, nor will underage athletes be permitted to endorse alcohol products.)
  • Education and progress toward a student-athlete’s degree must continue to be priorities. (Student-athletes will likely be prohibited from missing class to make a personal appearance, record a commercial or participate in any similar activity.)
  • Rules regarding these activities must be able to be enforceable and monitored for compliance with these rules (perhaps the hardest part of this whole concept in my opinion!!!).
  • Student-athletes will not be allowed to affiliate with a professional sports team and will not be allowed to receive compensation based specifically on their athletic performance (no prize money or compensation based on place finish in competition).
  • Rules must protect fairness in the recruitment of prospects or impermissible tampering with currently enrolled student-athletes.
  • A number of states have proposed or passed legislation within their own states to permit student-athletes to receive compensation for endorsement or promotional activities. The NCAA will be working with Congressional representatives to preempt state laws so that there can be consistency for all NCAA member institutions and their student-athletes.

Types of Activities that Will be Permissible for Student-Athletes Within the New Rules (pending approval):

Student-athletes will be allowed to receive compensation for:

  • Promoting local, regional or national businesses through personal appearances, appearing in commercials, or as social media “brand ambassadors.”
  • Modeling or signing autographs.
  • Their own creative endeavors such as acting, singing, or selling their artwork.
  • Giving private lessons or tutoring.
  • Conducting or providing research or class projects for or to private companies.

Much progress still needs to be made on establishing details and receiving feedback from various NCAA constituencies. However, the NCAA Board of Governors remain committed to having the three NCAA divisions prepare specific legislative proposals in time for the January 2021 NCAA Convention.

We will keep you updated as we learn more details and receive additional information.

Last week, I listened to a records conference call tin which NCAA Division I representatives provided updates and answered questions for a group of Division I athletic directors and conference commissioners.

Key takeaways from the conference call

On March 30, the NCAA Division I Council will vote on these issues:

  • Whether all Division I spring sport student-athletes will be able to receive an additional season of eligibility. They had previously agreed in principle to the “concept” of all Division I spring sport athletes receiving an additional year of eligibility, but no official decision has been made at this point.
  • Whether Division I winter sport student-athletes will be able to receive an additional season of eligibility.
  • Whether the scholarship limits for Division I spring sports will be increased for next year, and whether a 6th year of eligibility will be offered to all spring sport athletes or only to those who are currently in their last year of their “five-year clock.”
  • They will also address the impact of an additional year of eligibility for those student-athletes who transfer to an NCAA Division I university from another college level.

Will NCAA “Dead Period” be Extended?

Based on input from the NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer and the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, we should expect that the current NCAA “Dead Period” prohibiting in-person recruiting activity will be extended beyond the current imposed date of April 15. We should learn more about that after another NCAA conference call scheduled for April 1.

Transfer Waiver Issue

Discussion of a possible Transfer Waiver which will allow scholarship athletes in Baseball, Basketball, Football and Men’s Ice Hockey a one-time opportunity to transfer and be eligible the following year at another Division I school has been pushed back from the NCAA Division I Council’s April meeting to their June meeting.

At the NCAA Annual Convention last week in Anaheim, the Division I Board of Directors and other leadership committees received an update from the committee studying the NCAA rules which will permit athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness (commonly referred to as NIL in social media).

The Board of Directors and leadership committees reaffirmed the following principles that will be used to guide the development of proposed legislation:

  • Student-athletes should not become employees of their schools
  • The rules regarding name, image, and likeness should be transparent and enforceable for all sports equally.
  • These rules should protect the recruiting process, as well as opportunities for women equally to those for male athletes.
  • College athletes should have the same access to opportunities as their peers who don’t participate in college sports as long as fairness in the recruiting process is protected.

Broad legislative concepts are due to be developed and available for discussion and debate within the Division I membership by the end of April.

Actual proposed rule changes which will lay out the specific conditions and guidelines for athletes to receive such compensation will likely not be publicized until late summer or next Fall. Broad legislative concepts are due to be developed and available for discussion and debate within the Division I membership by the end of April.

We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Yesterday, the NCAA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to begin the legislative process that will permit NCAA student-athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

This vote regarding the potential use of an athlete’s “name, image, or likeness” (commonly referred to as “NIL”) paves the way for student-athletes to potentially receive payment for their autographs, for personal appearances, and for their picture or image (and possibly their voice) to promote commercial products and services.

Developing these new rules will certainly be no easy task.

The Board in conjunction with a “Federal and State Legislation Working Group” has established a list of principles and guidelines to direct the work of the NCAA, conferences, and university representatives in all three divisions as they develop and propose appropriate legislation to be considered by NCAA member institutions.

Among these principles and guidelines are the following:

  • “Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition.”
  • “Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.”
  • “Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.”

As you might imagine, I have many questions as to how this will play out over the coming months.

  • For example, how will the NCAA create rules that will allow campus compliance administrators to determine, much less enforce how much a student-athlete’s signature, personal appearance at an event, or use of likeness is worth?
  • How will standards be set such that universities with large alumni bases and/or that are located in large metropolitan areas with thousands of businesses won’t have a recruiting advantage over mid-major and smaller universities in the Midwest or great plains states because of the endorsement opportunities that will be available to athletes at those larger universities?

The Board of Governors has expressed a desire for each NCAA division to come up with new rules as soon as possible, but no later than January 2021. For the full NCAA press release, click on this link:  https://bit.ly/2JxUsu8.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.  In the meantime, if you have any questions call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

 

On Monday, September 30, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill 206 which will permit student-athletes at California four-year colleges to accept compensation for the use of their name, likeness, or personal appearance which is contrary to current NCAA rules.

The Bill will not take effect until January 1, 2023.

The NCAA Board of Governors has stated their opposition to the Bill. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is chairing an NCAA committee that is tasked with review of the current NCAA rules regarding endorsement legislation and considering possible changes to those rules.

Reaction from Universities Outside the State of California

Initial reaction from athletic directors at major universities outside California is concern about the unfair recruiting advantage that California colleges will have. These universities are also expressing reluctance to schedule competition against California colleges in the future.

In fact, the California colleges and universities won’t be eligible for NCAA post-season competition if this issue isn’t resolved before Senate Bill 206 becomes effective in 2023.

My Thoughts on This Issue

Many are in favor of student-athletes having the opportunity to benefit from the exposure that they bring to their college teams. However, given my 25+ years working on-campus in NCAA compliance, I have many thoughts about how this will affect student-athletes and athletic departments as a whole.

Does a star athlete bring exposure to their team, or is it the other way around?

For example, would a star athlete at USC or UCLA have as much “value” when endorsing a product if they were instead playing for Cal Baptist or UC-Santa Barbara?

How will this affect student-athletes in non-revenue sports?

If local businesses that support a college athletic department choose to instead pay student-athletes directly for endorsing their business, could this result in fewer dollars from local businesses supporting the non-revenue sports like swimming, track and field, rowing, wresting and have a negative impact on those sports?

Will endorsements have an affect on the way an athlete competes?

Say for example, a star basketball player is receiving $100,000 or more from a booster to endorse that booster’s business. Will the player listen to the coach’s instructions if he’s told that he’s to pass to a teammate for the last-second shot or will he take the shot himself?

Will offensive linemen let the quarterback get sacked as retaliation if the quarterback isn’t sharing his endorsement dollars by purchasing meals or other items for the linemen?

Similarly, will the infielders and outfielders provide solid defense for a starting pitcher who’s receiving large fees for endorsements as the projected #1 pick in the upcoming major league baseball draft?

Could the colleges and universities in California choose to leave the NCAA to form their own statewide athletic governing body?

That would be possible, since the California community colleges already have their own California Community College Athletic Association which is completely separate from the National Junior College Athletic Association.

It seems to me, however, that such a move could severely damage the bargaining power and potential revenue from ESPN, Fox Sports, and other networks and streaming services that currently provide a substantial portion of revenues received by those NCAA universities.

In Summary

There are no specific answers to any of these concerns at this time, but it’s a topic that will be interesting to follow in the upcoming months and years.

At the recent NCAA Regional Rules Workshop, NCAA staff announced the rollout of a new Degree Completion Assistance Program for former DI basketball athletes who qualify.

Effective August 1, 2019, NCAA Division I athletic programs will be required to provide tuition, fees, and books (but not room and board) for their former men’s and women’s basketball athletes who meet all of the following criteria:

  • Participated at that particular university in men’s or women’s basketball;
  • Received an athletic scholarship from the university;
  • Were enrolled at the university for at least two academic years;
  • Satisfied Progress-Toward-Degree requirements at the time the athlete left campus;
  • Has not attended another university as a full-time student since departure;
  • Satisfies university re-admission and financial aid requirements;
  • Departed the university within the last 10 years; AND
  • Has exhausted other degree completion funding opportunities (such as the NBA Tuition Reimbursement program).

Athletes who might qualify for this program should contact the Compliance office at the university where they played basketball.