NIL is finally here, and NCAA student-athletes, like Gators, are free to cash in on their brands (With some guidelines to follow).
While the right to profit off of name, image and likeness developed as an athlete and state effort, with states like California and Florida leading the charge, Mark Emmert made the transformative announcement on Wednesday afternoon. The NCAA president added that the NCAA would continue to work with Congress to develop a more permanent solution.
Hence, with many questions flying around about these NIL rules panning out, Steve McClain, the Senior Associate Athletics Director at UF, joined Steve Russell to discuss what these new freedoms mean for Gator athletes and how they will comply with UF’s interpretation of the rules. ESPN reporter Tom VanHaaren later came on to discuss the big picture of college athletics with NIL legislation.
New Rules for Gators
First, McClain said, now athletes can have an agent that reps them solely in NIL matters- not dealing with the NFL or anything else. Simultaneously beginning July 1, they can also employ a lawyer to help them in these new and complicated situations.
In this process of receiving endorsements, he says, whether earning money on a YouTube video, opening a business venture, selling a clothing line, performing lessons, etc., student-athletes must navigate three stipulations:
1. Disclose the terms of their agreement with the university.
While historically it’s been about compliance, the student-athletes do not need permission from UF in this case. Instead, they comply with state law.
The athlete fills out a form distributed by the compliance department via phone. They detail what’s included in the agreement, who it’s with, and how much they earn.
“We just collect it, we’re not approving it,” McClain said of the university’s role.
2. An athletic department, coach, staff member or booster can’t arrange it.
However, boosters’ businesses are free to sponsor athletes. They must contact the athlete’s agent to avoid any secret handshakes and sliding of money bags to athletes.
3. Students athletes must secure permission from the university if they want to use marks.
Florida IMG/Gator Sports Properties maintains the rights to its “marks” or logos. Student-athletes can wear the Gator mark on their jerseys or hoodies, but they must secure prior approval university.
McClain says he can’t speak for other schools, but Florida will not be restricting athletes’ opportunities with other people. For example, even though everyone knows UF has a partnership with Gatorade, a student-athlete could take sponsorship from Powerade. The student-athlete may not be able to use marks, but they can freely wear orange and blue.
“Law School” at UF
McClain provided more insight into UF interpretation by saying that UF only bans a few things, and those are consistent with activities that violate NCAA rules. For Florida athletes, this means no partnerships involving gambling and sports waging vendors or vendors associated with Performance Enhancing Drugs banned by the NCAA.
With this new law, there’s lots of education to go around.
McClain shared a two-and-a-half-page simplified version of the law with the teams, staff, boosters and sponsors. He’s speaking with Gators teams and even had a meeting with the football parents.
Furthermore, many 19-year-olds are frankly not thinking about how they have to pay taxes. As a result, another benefit of this legislation for UF student-athletes comes through more financial training.
Overall Impact on College Athletics
For one, Tom VanHaaren says teams have already adjusted their recruiting pitches. USC is one school that believes it is already gaining more recruits from across the country due to the NIL laws. VanHaaren spoke to their player personnel director, Spencer Harris, who said he has been hyping up LA as the entertainment capital of the world.
There are diverse opportunities for schools, VanHaaren added though. He does not think schools in cities like Auburn and Tuscaloosa, Alabama or Gainesville, Florida are disadvantaged. These teams have the spotlight in their area, and some, like Nebraska, command the entire state due to no competition from professional teams. Plus, elite SEC teams will attract national attention:
In the end, VanHaaren does not think the NIL legislation will flip college sports upside down. Instead, it will be an opportunity for college athletes to build upon their brand, perhaps most commonly as Instagram influencers.
“It’s really just giving them on opportunity to make money off of whatever they have right now and what they’ve built in their own brand.”
Deals should be dropping all day and all week, with much more to come as student-athletes navigate these new opportunities.