On July 1, 2021, the NCAA adopted its interim Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policy, which set forth the terms under which intercollegiate athletes may monetize their NIL. On October 26, 2022, the Division I Board of Directors approved clarifications to the interim guidance to clarify how schools can be involved with NIL activities for their student-athletes.
On October 12, 2023, the NCAA subcommittee responsible for the rules regarding NIL met to discuss several proposed changes to its interim NIL guidance and the subsequent clarification provided by the Division I Board of Directors. These proposed changes to the NCAA’s interim guidance are centered around allowing student-athletes’ respective schools to be more involved in their NIL opportunities. Under these proposed changes, schools may be able to find NIL opportunities for their student-athletes, review their NIL agreements, assist them with preparing their taxes, and provide additional resources such as cameras, studios, or graphic designers to assist with their NIL content.
Under the NCAA’s interim guidance, and clarified in the Division I Board of Directors’ October 26, 2022 guidance, NCAA member schools are largely prevented from assisting student-athletes, directly or indirectly, in finding NIL opportunities and representing them or offering them support with their NIL relationships. As of now, NCAA member schools can essentially only educate their student-athletes on NIL compliance.
For those monitoring NIL opportunities in collegiate sports, these proposed changes to the NCAA’s NIL interim guidance are a long time coming. Since NIL made its way into intercollegiate sports, schools have been trying to support their student-athletes with regard to NIL opportunities, as this can play a large factor in recruiting potential student-athletes. Now, NCAA member schools are beginning to enter into arrangements with third parties to offer student-athletes those services contemplated by the NCAA’s proposed changes to its interim guidance.
On September 21, 2023, the University of Alabama’s Athletic Department and LEARFIELD, a media and technology company centered on college sports, opened the Advantage Center in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Advantage Center is available to all Alabama student-athletes to assist them with their NIL opportunities. The Advantage Center also collaborates with the University of Alabama School of Law, the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute, and the Culverhouse School of Accounting. The Advantage Center allows Alabama student-athletes to access social media content specialists, a production studio, and meeting spaces for student-athletes to use to further their NIL endeavors.
The Advantage Center is the first of its kind. It is likely that many other schools, in their ongoing effort to recruit and retain student-athletes, will look to emulate the model that the University of Alabama is pioneering. However, not every NCAA member school has the resources to open a facility like the Advantage Center. This could be one of the large driving forces behind the NCAA’s proposed changes to its NIL interim guidance.
There is no timeline for the proposed changes to the NCAA’s interim NIL guidance to go into effect. However, at this point, it appears it is when, not if, the interim NIL guidance is revised or further clarified.