Go, team, go—straight to the bank.
Today is the first day that college athletes are allowed to be compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association voted yesterday to suspend its rules, which prohibited players from receiving financial benefit in that way.
The policy shift for monetizing a player’s name, image, or likeness—better known as NIL—impacts all incoming and current student-athletes in all sports in all three NCAA divisions. It doesn’t affect the rules that require student-athletes to “avoid pay-for-play and improper inducements tied to choosing to attend a particular school,” the NCAA says.
The organization—which draws millions of fans and ad dollars annually, most notably with March Madness and bowl games—calls the policy “temporary” and “interim,”explaining that it’ll stay in place there’s federal legislation or new NCAA rules.
Experts predict this will translate into popular college athletes making big bucks on appearance and speaking fees as well endorsement deals, such as for apparel, and will help female NCAA athletes—traditionally lacking the access their male counterparts have to many post-college professional athletic opportunities—develop revenue streams for themselves.
The 115-year-old NCAA has long been opposed to paying student athletes, though some colleges and universities use workarounds to lure high school students to play for them, such as perks provided by boosters. Opponents argued that this meant billions of dollars in profits for the NCAA on the backs of unpaid players.
“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a written statement. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level. The current environment—both legal and legislative—prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas have NIL laws that go into effect for college athletes today.
The NCAA’s pivot comes after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston et al last week, which said the NCAA couldn’t ban payments to student athletes. The original antitrust lawsuit was brought by current and former college players who said that policy violated the Sherman Act.
Close to half a million college athletes make up the 19,886 teams in the NCAA, according to the organization’s website.