This post originally appeared on Forbes.com on October 7, 2020.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has become the first college sports organization to pass name, image and likeness legislation. The NAIA governs small athletic programs across the country, sponsoring 27 national championships for more than 77,000 student athletes.
“This is a landmark day for the NAIA, and we are happy to lead the way in providing additional opportunities for our student-athletes,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. “The time was right for the NAIA to ensure our student-athletes can use their name, image and likeness in the same ways as all other college students.”
Broadly, the new legislation allows NAIA student athletes to earn compensation for promoting commercial products, enterprises or for public or media appearances. The NAIA issued a list of scenarios they’ve previously had questions about that will now be permitted:
- Student athletes or teams can participate in their sport for a movie, show, commercial, etc. and be compensated, even if they wear their school uniform.
- Student athletes can sell supplements, leveraging their status as student-athlete in the promotion.
- Student athletes can be a member of a music group and reference the school in a poster to promote the group.
- Student athletes can offer sport lessons to youth for an hourly fee and advertise on social media and flyers, including action shots of the student athlete in their uniform.
- Student athletes can receive compensation for appearing in a local commercial, even if they reference their status as a student athlete or their institution.
- Student athletes can publish a memoir about their life story and reference their position as a student athlete and their specific institution.
- Student athletes can monetize their influence on social media, even if they reference their status as a student athlete or their institution.
Although the NCAA is expected to pass legislation in 2021 that would cover similar opportunities, the NAIA legislation goes a step further than the NCAA legislation is likely to go by allowing student athletes to reference their intercollegiate athletic participation in promotions and appearances.
California, Colorado, Florida and Nebraska have already passed legislation at the state level that allows all student athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. Florida’s law takes effect July 1, 2021, while California, Colorado and Nebraska’s laws don’t take effect until January 1, 2023.
The NCAA is currently planning to vote at its annual convention in January 2021 for changes that would go into effect for the 2021-22 academic year.
There have also been attempts to address name, image and likeness at the federal level. Congressmen Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) have introduced a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives regarding name, image and likeness. That bill would allow student athletes to have endorsement contracts and also representatives to help solicit and negotiate those endorsements. The NCAA or schools could prohibit endorsements in certain categories, such as tobacco, alcohol and marijuana and could also prohibit the wearing of any clothing or gear with sponsor logos during athletic competition and university-sponsored events. This bill would preempt all state laws on the subject if passed.
In the meantime, the NAIA is attempting to ensure its member institutions can comply with the varying state laws being passed. Although the NAIA admits in its FAQ document that there’s uncertainty around how its new NIL rules will impact teams or schools financially, and that there are likely questions they haven’t thought of or answered, their ultimate goal is to shape NAIA rules “to best benefit our students and schools.”
Fans are likely more familiar with the NCAA, but the NAIA has produced many notable pro athletes such as former MLB stars like Sid Bream, Lou Brock, Don Sutton and Ben Zobrist. In the NBA, Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Vern Mikkelsen, Willis Reed and Elgin Baylor all came from NAIA institutions. NFL Hall of Famers Mel Blount, Buck Buchanan and Walter Payton all hailed from the NAIA.
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