Commentary

NCAA Will Allow Athletes To Cash In On Their (Social Media) Prowess

The National Collegiate Athletic Association yesterday said it supports “rule changes to allow student-athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements both related to and separate from athletics.”

“The NCAA proposal would allow college athletes to retain agents and profit from their name, image and likeness as long as the association agrees that proposed deals represent fair market value. The NCAA says the measure is meant to protect student athletes from exploitative below-market deals, but it could also be used to block lucrative 'professional opportunities’ that it believes could provide an unfair recruiting advantage for some schools,” Laine Higgins and Louise Radnofsky write  for The Wall Street Journal.

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“Yes, players will be paid. Not by the schools, mind you. Instead, they will be compensated for their name, image and likeness by business interests outside the school as well as, according to the press release, ‘social media business they have started and personal appearances,’” the Lexington Herald-Leader’s John Clay writes for MSN News.

“The NCAA had been under increasing pressure to allow athletes to capitalize on the use of their unique abilities as universities have built sports programs into a billion-dollar behemoth without paying players. Students who don’t play sports -- actors, musicians, journalists and others -- can already cash in if they have exceptional talents,” Billy Witz observes  for The New York Times.

“Lawmakers, who have pushed legislation that would have largely granted athletes the rights that the universities are now crafting themselves, were cautiously optimistic about the Wednesday announcement by the N.C.A.A, the governing body for college sports,” Witz adds, citing a tweet by Rep. Mark Walker (R-North Carolina). 

“Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tate Martell will be one of the athletes to benefit the most from the change in the business model that allows athletes to monetize their own name, image and likeness. Social media was one of the biggest reasons that the NCAA chose to change the business model,” Alan Rubenstein writes  for Fansided.

“Anyone can be an influencer on social media. The antiquated reasoning behind not allowing athletes to use their name, image, or likeness to earn money in the past was that it was a benefit that an average student would not have. That view has completely flipped with the advent of social media,” Rubenstein continues. 

“Using his name, image and likeness, Martell has built a following of 252,000 followers on Instagram and 149,900 followers on Twitter. Martell is dating Brazilian model and University of Miami student Kiki Passo who has one million Instagram followers. Martell and Passo could now create a joint Instagram account,” Rubenstein points out.

“Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely. And let’s make one thing clear: The NCAA did not willingly do the right thing, it got pushed into doing the right thing,” the Herald-Leader’sClay writes.

There are still details to be hashed out.

“‘But some Alabama booster will just buy all the recruits … the smaller schools don’t stand a chance … college athletics is forever ruined….’ That’s the wailing you are hearing now that the NCAA will allow players to profit off their name, image and likeness,” writes  Dan Wetzel for Yahoo Sports.

“In essence, the NCAA is going to try to build a system that would require athletes to disclose their name, image and likeness income and then monitor for irregularities. College coaches and pro athletes, for instances, do all kinds of national and local endorsements at rates negotiated by their agents that are largely based on comparable contracts. The same principle would apply here. If the range of those sponsorship deals for a car dealer was valued between $50,000-$100,000 but someone was offering a college athlete $500,000, it would raise a red flag,” Wetzel adds.

Ohio State University athletic director Gene Smith, who is the co-chair of the NCAA’s Federal and State Legislation Working Group, which developed the recommendations, believes “the NCAA should determine fair market values for various opportunities to draw the line between genuine compensation for use of name, image and likeness and payments tied to athletic participation that are disguised as [National Letter of Intent] benefits,” he said on a conference call with reporters.

“We just have to be reasonable,” Smith said, Dan Hope reports  for Eleven Warriors. “If I do a deal with Panera Bread and I do two likes (on social media) and they pay me $50,000 for that, I’m not so sure [that’s] within the realm of what we’re talking about. So we just need to take our time, again continue to educate ourselves, and come up with a process to allow us to at least bring transparency to the activities, so that we can make some decisions.”

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