WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The NCAA cleared the way for athletes to profit off their name Thursday, the eve of legislation becoming law in several states that would allow for such compensation.
The expected approval from the NCAA Board of Directors came a few days after a recommendation from the Division I Council to allow athletes in every state to pursue compensation for their name, image, and likeness without jeopardizing their college eligibility.
The NCAA’s decision to suspend restrictions on payments to athletes for things such as sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances applies to all three divisions or some 460,000 athletes.
Several athletic directors in Wichita weighed in on the impact of the NCAA announcement and the future of college sports as July 1 begins with a complete shift in the economics of college athletics.
Morris Udeze, a senior forward with one WSU Men’s Basketball, is already agreeing to use his name, image, and likeness to make a profit.
“All athletes have been waiting on this for a very long time, so it’s actually a great experience,” Udeze said, who averaged 10 points a game for the Shockers last season.
Now, he’s hoping to cash in on his good play. “It’s sort of like a gaming company which allows us to play with fans, kids, Fortnite, Call of Duty. It’ll be nice to play with some fans,” Udeze said.
WSU athletic director Darron Boatright sees this as a new frontier for athletes.
“It’s a new opportunity for us to assist them and educate them on branding and marketing and taking advantage of a brand they have worked so all of their lives to represent,” he said.
At bigger universities like Kansas State, they have athletes like wide receiver Shane Porter who has close to a million followers on Tik Tok.
“He has built this following long before NIL was a possibility I think, and he can make some pretty good money as an influencer. good for him,” said Gene Taylor, K-State director of athletics.
As for athletes in lower divisions, like Division II Emporia State, the endorsement opportunities are still unknown.
“I think you’ll see some certainly some interest in activities on a more local or regional level,” Kent Weiser, director of athletics for Emporia State said.
As for Udeze, he’s just excited for what’s coming up next.
“It’s our last year so you might as well make the most of it, we’re just trying to capitalize on any offer we get,” Udeze said.
Some athletes wasted no time signing sponsorships. Antwan Owens, a Jackson State player, became the first athlete to sign a NIL deal inking a contract right at midnight. Miami quarterback D’eriq King signed four NIL deals within the first 13 hours of the new policy taking effect.
The NCAA also is allowing athletes to enter into agreements with agents while encouraging them to keep schools informed. The NCAA said schools are responsible “for determining whether those activities are consistent with state law.”
“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level.”
The NCAA wants to have federal laws or its own permanent rules regarding the issue known as NIL but was forced to seek a temporary solution rather than have athletes in some states eligible for compensation while others were not.
More than 10 states have laws set to go into effect Thursday that would have undercut existing NCAA rules regarding such compensation for athletes.
Without NCAA action, athletes in some states could be making money without putting their college eligibility in jeopardy while their counterparts in other states could be in danger of breaking NCAA rules.
The NCAA’s stopgap measure comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the association in a case involving education-related benefits. That 9-0 ruling is expected to impact issues related to compensation for athletes.