On July 1, 2021, college athletes were finally able to do something that advocates say is long overdue. Cash in on their name, image, and likeness while in college. (NIL)
College athletes all over the country now have the ability to make money off of their name, image, and likeness, but what does that mean exactly?
It means that a college athlete is now free to sign endorsements, sign shoe deals, sell merchandise, sell autographs, be in video games, star in commercials, host camps, and all sorts of other money-making ventures that they were barred from before.
For some athletes, especially for the football, basketball, and Olympic caliber athletes, this is a huge step forward. Yes, some athletes probably aren’t going to make that much money. However, some college athletes could make millions. Former NCAA athletes like Zion Williamson and Tim Tebow probably could have made millions off of their college popularity alone. After all, high school athletes that forgo college often sign lucrative endorsement deals. Indeed, since the July 1 repeal of the rule, at least one NCAA athlete has already signed a multi-million-dollar deal, and he is significantly less popular than the two aforementioned examples.
While most athletes desire to hit it big in the pros, most of them will not. Many athletes will peak in popularity in college, not to mention the risk of career ending injury. So, the ability for them to make money off of their name, image, and likeness during their prime earning years is no small deal.
Previously, college athletes accepting money for endorsements could have jeopardized their ability to play and possibly force the school to vacate wins.
It is important to note that this isn’t quite pay for play. When most people talk about college athletes getting paid, they are speaking to their desire to see the NCAA, or the schools pay the athletes themselves. Which seems fair considering the schools make millions off of the major sports. However, on July 1 student athletes gained the right to be paid by someone else, not the schools.
Last month, we covered the Supreme Court’s decision regarding educational benefits for college athletes. That case dealt with benefits such as like laptops and grad school. That decision is a landmark in and of itself, and based on the written opinions of the Justices, probably will eventually open the floodgates to a true pay for play system, but we are not there yet.
At any rate, if you are someone who enjoys college sports but always felt guilty supporting a system that extracts time and labor from student athletes with little compensation relative to their value, you may feel a little better this year when you see your favorite college basketball player sporting his own signature shoe.