The NCAA had to be dragged kicking and screaming into it, but the era of college athletes being able to profit from their own names, images, and likenesses has arrived. FILE – In this March 26, 2014, file photo, Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson dribbles past the NCAA logo during practice at the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Anaheim, Calif. A federal judge ruled that the NCAA can’t stop players from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses, striking down NCAA regulations that prohibit them from getting anything other than scholarships and the cost of attendance at schools. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, Calif., ruled in favor Friday, Aug. 8, of former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and 19 others in a lawsuit that challenged the NCAA’s regulation of college athletics on antitrust grounds. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) Jae C. Hong

The NCAA deserves no credit for NIL reforms

Zachary Faria July 02, 05:05 PM July 02, 05:05 PM

The NCAA had to be dragged kicking and screaming into it, but the era of college athletes being able to profit from their own names, images, and likenesses has arrived.

With 11 state name-image-likeness, or NIL, laws set to go into effect Thursday, the NCAA preemptively implemented its own interim NIL policy to ensure uniform guidelines for all states. NCAA athletes are now allowed to make money from endorsement deals.

The NCAA gets little credit for this. The organization opposed this at every step, coming to this conclusion only because state legislators of both parties in multiple states forced them to. NCAA President Mark Emmert, whose base salary is $2.7 million per year, consistently spoke out against letting athletes profit off of their own names, images, and likenesses.

California was the state that first pushed the issue, passing its NIL law in September 2019. It was set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023. Emmert and the NCAA cried foul, but by that point, the damage, or, rather, the advance for fairness, was done: Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi all followed with laws that would go into effect sooner, and several more states joined in.

The NCAA tried to pretend that it was a part of this movement, but it never was. Up until just last month, the organization still forbade education-related benefits such as laptops and internships. The Supreme Court unanimously struck down that policy, a resounding public humiliation in the NCAA’s last-gasp attempt to fight the winds of change.

As for the doomsday scenarios advanced by the NCAA and its supporters about the destruction of college athletics, their predictions will be put to the test over the next few years. One such prediction is already flailing. Opponents of NIL rights for college athletes belittled the idea as only benefiting football and men’s basketball players. But on the first day of the NCAA’s new policy, Fresno State women’s basketball players Hanna and Haley Cavinder landed deals with Boost Mobile and Six Star Pro Nutrition, with more apparently on the way.

The other dire predictions will likely fail as well. And the NCAA should be reminded of each unfulfilled prophecy. It is to the NCAA’s shame that it took the might of bipartisan legislators in multiple states to end its decadeslong defense of the unfair status quo forcibly.

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