Student-athletes may receive scholarships, but they don’t receive payment for their participation in sports. For decades, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) actively prohibited student-athletes from profiting from their athletic careers while still enrolled in college. Students could not sign contracts that would lead to financial compensation, which may have limited earning potential for millions of athletes that helped drive funding for the schools that they attended.
College sports have an economy all their own, with tickets for the most popular events sometimes rivaling the cost of professional sporting events. For years, only institutions benefited from the popularity of college sports.
In 2021, the NCAA revisited rules and made some noteworthy revisions. Now, those engaged in college athletics can lawfully license their name, image and or likeness (NIL) for various purposes. This can create challenges for student-athletes and athletic professionals employed by colleges.
What college coaches should know about NIL
Schools in Georgia are subject both to NCAA laws and Georgia state rules regarding licensing agreements for student-athletes. Coaches will typically need to familiarize themselves with guidelines provided by NCAA, the state and also their educational institution in particular to help ensure that their students abide by the rules. After all, mistakes in licensing agreements could lead to a player becoming ineligible.
Coaches will typically need to have at least a cursory awareness of how their players intend to leverage their licensing rights to preserve a positive team culture. The financial incentive of licensing could make athletes more competitive even with their own teammates. They may focus more on personal fame and success than teamwork.
Licensing agreements could potentially be reasons for conflict during games or practices, as athletes on the same team could work with competing businesses. They could also start to see one another as competition for income opportunities with local companies.
More opportunities for student-athletes may benefit everyone
There will inevitably be challenges and unforeseen complications when making a major change to an existing system. However, allowing student-athletes to capitalize on what may be the peak of their athletic career in some cases benefits the individual players and the institutions that educate them.
Learning more about the NCAA’s new NIL licensing rules will help anyone involved in college athletic programs make informed choices about their options. Seeking legal guidance will help to ensure that everyone’s interests are sufficiently protected as programs evolve.