What NCAA Reforms Mean for Student Athlete Compensation 

Avery Skipper

Senior Staff Writer 

As of June 30th, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made the groundbreaking decision to waive their controversial policy which prohibited student athletes from making money from their name, image, and likeness (often referred to as NIL). Student athletes are now able to sell autographs, accept endorsement deals, monetize their YouTube accounts, and profit off of their social media accounts. For the first time in the 115-year long history of the association, student athletes will now be able to receive a fair compensation for the fame and notoriety they bring to their colleges and universities. Though, student athletes will still not be compensated by their universities, beyond the cost of attendance. 

The NCAA’s decision to change this long-standing policy was likely due to mountianing legal pressure. On June 21, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the NCAA. The court’s decision made it possible for college athletes to receive “educational-related” financial benefits. Though this decision was narrow, it opened the door for further litigation, legislation, and even collective bargaining on the part of student athletes to resolve the NCAA’s remaining unfair compensation rules. In order to get ahead of the imminent influx of lawsuits, the NCAA quickly made the move to waive their name, image, and likeness policy. 

On UNCG’s campus, student athletes quickly took advantage of this new opportunity. Many student athletes were quick to accept sponsorships, from the likes of the digital media company Barstool Sports, to Liquid I.V., a company that makes electrolyte drink mix. UNCG responded with their own rules and regulations regarding the name, image, and likeness of their student athletes. In August, UNCG’s Department of Athletics released their NIL Interim guidelines. These guidelines state that student athletes may not use UNCG logos, apparel, uniforms, equipment, or facilities during any NIL activities or promotion. Furthermore, UNCG athletes may not enter into agreement with sponsors who are UNCG’s partners or competitors. While these interim guidelines are straightforward and relatively flexible, they are subject to change at any time. 

This decision by the NCAA is a win for student athletes everywhere, but there is still a long way to go. There are many other unfair restrictions on compensation that remain in effect.

Student athletes will still receive no compensation from ticket sales, merchandising revenue, ad revenue, team endorsements, ect. While the NCAA may claim that these restrictions are in place to protect amateurism, it is abundantly clear that these practices are exploitative to student athletes. College sports is a multimillion dollar industry. Yet, the students at the center of the industry receive little to no compensation for their performance. These NCAA practices are particularly inciducious due to their implications regarding racial inequality. 

The NCAA’s “Power Five” encompasses 65 schools that make up the five largest and richest conferences in college athletics. Of these 65 schools, black men make up 55% of football teams and 56% of men’s basketball teams, while black men only make up 2.4% of these schools total undergraduate enrollment, according to the University of Southern California’s Race and Equality Center. Ultimately, the NCAA’s refusal to fairly compensate collegiate athletes has disportionately affected students of color. However, this policy change on name, image, and likeness is a step in the right direction by the NCAA.

Categories: featured, Human Interest, Opinions

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