With the NCAA’s Board of Governors accepting recommendations for rule changes regarding how athletes can be compensated for their names, images and likenesses (NIL) in late April, it appears real change is coming to college athletics.
What exactly this new legislation will look like remains unclear, as does how it will be enforced. So while Hartwick and SUNY Oneonta athletic administrators are uncertain exactly what it will mean for student-athletes at their institutions, there is nonetheless an awareness that it will require some adjustment.
“I really don’t know how it’s going to work with Division III because it’s not like there’s a constant basis to use their image,” SUCO head women’s basketball coach and senior woman administrator Daphne Thompson told The Daily Star. “But that could change, too. With them loosening stuff, we don’t know where it’s going to be used.”
Initial information from the NCAA said that the association’s three divisions are expected to have legislation adopted by January, with plans for the new rules to take effect for the academic year beginning in the fall of 2021.
The recommendations seek to allow student-athletes to gain compensation for the use of their NIL, but there are several restrictions in the suggested rule changes. Chief among them is a general stipulation that any compensation cannot be at all associated with their schools, or from third-party boosters using compensation as a recruiting tool.
Several other suggested limitations were included in the suggestions accepted by the Board of Governors, and it’s not hard to imagine all of the scenarios that will likely make the creation of loophole-free legislation difficult to craft.
But with so little known about what the legislation will look like, both Oneonta schools said the focus is on preparing to educate student-athletes about the rules so they can be prepared for the eventual adoption.
“It’s going to be all about the education piece. At the DIII level you don’t know who’s going to approach them and you aren’t as connected,” Thompson said. “My season is October to March. If someone approaches them in June, I won’t know if they are doing it right.”
Hartwick’s Director of Athletics and Chair of Physical Education John Czarnecki said that education has already begun.
“As is the case with all new legislation, Hartwick is monitoring the NIL discussions and is committed to providing our student-athletes appropriate information to be able to utilize any NIL rights provided to them,” Czarnecki said in an email. “The student-athletes have had the opportunity to hear about the impacts of NIL on them directly from President Margaret L. Drugovich, who just completed a four-year term on the NCAA’s President’s Council.”
As the governing body, the NCAA will be responsible for crafting what figures to be a challenging set of rule changes for its member schools. But once the new rules are in place, Thompson said the schools will also rely on the association for guidance in making student-athletes understand how to stay in bounds. While what the next seven months will hold for college athletes is very murky, the NCAA will nonetheless have to make its new rules clear.
“One of the things the NCAA does really well is they traditionally send you a do’s and don’t’s flyer,” Thompson said. “I anticipate when they roll this out come January, they will have a list of bullet points about do this, don’t do that.”