Last week, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) became the first college sports organization to enact college athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) legislation. The NAIA beat the NCAA to the college athlete NIL goal line as the organization realizes that it is time for college athletes' rights to stop being restricted in ways that other students' rights are not. Accordingly, NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr stated "The time was right for the NAIA to ensure that student-athletes can use their name, image, and likeness in the same way as all other college students."
The NAIA has amended the NAIA Amateur Code to allow "student-athlete[s] to receive compensation for promoting any commercial product, enterprise, or for any public or media appearance." It is also now permissible for NAIA athletes to "reference their intercollegiate athletic participation in such promotions and appearances." The NAIA acknowledged that the opportunities for college athletes in their organization may not be the same as those available to NCAA Division I Athletes as those athletes are more likely to be afforded the more lucrative deals. However, the NAIA realizes that their athletes stand to benefit tremendously from being allowed to profit from their NIL and as such should be allowed to.
What Does This Landmark Decision Mean for NAIA Athletes?
In short, NAIA college athletes will now be allowed to enter endorsement deals and take advantage of such opportunities in the same way that other college students can. Here are a few of the activities that NAIA college athletes can participate in under the new rules:
- Receive compensation for appearing in a local commercial,
- Market and monetize themselves as social media influencers, and
- Create and monetize a YouTube channel highlighting a day in the life of a college athlete.
NAIA college athletes can engage in all of these activities while referencing their participation in their respective college sport.
The College Athletes' NIL Movement Continues to Move Forward
This decision proves yet again that the college athletes' rights movement is continuing to move forward. However, the NCAA continues drag their feet in amending their rules in a way to create meaningful changes for their college athletes. While the NCAA continues its attempt to stall out on the issue, the NAIA and five states have enacted college athletes name, image, and likeness rules and laws respectively. The NCAA is expected to NIL pass legislation by the start of 2021. However, it remains to be seen if the NCAA will actually pass such legislation and if the legislation will actually be beneficial to the athletes.