Here’s Why The Names, Images, Likeness Rule Is A Good Thing

Photo by Mario Puente

A lot of college sports fans are opposed to the potential new NCAA legislation on names, images, and likeness. I was one of them.

They’ll ruin college athletics! It will be professional sports now! Everyone will cheat! Companies will steer recruits to their favorite teams!

Yeah, of course, some will cheat but that is already happening. If the NCAA puts much more significant penalties on those caught cheating or nudging their sponsors to steer recruits (unlikely, I know) that could deter a lot. Conferences need to take a hard stand on this, too: allowing just a few wealthy teams to break the rules hurts the majority of schools in a given league.

But is this really going to be professional sports? No one will be paid by the schools and no one will be allowed to profit from performance or participation. That means players aren’t allowed to be paid to play in an all-star game or participate in events that show off his athletic skill – Dane Roy would not be getting his own punting tour show.

Sorry, Dane

But this isn’t just about football and basketball players. Yes, the starting QB and the star defensive tackle will get contracts to do commercials and to endorse products and services. That’s going to happen and that’s likely where any corruption will come from. But here’s what changed my mind and why the legislation should work for all athletes. Perhaps student-athletes use their names, images, and likenesses when:

– EA Sports comes out with a new NCAA football game. Everyone on the roster makes a little money. Other sports games come out, too, negotiated by a consortium of players.

– Nike gives every student-athlete $50 a month for use of their images/likeness in local marketing. Perhaps the school facilitates this as part of their equipment deal.

– Volleyball players are now allowed to conduct clinics for junior high and high school players instead of the head coach being the only one allowed to make money on clinics.

– Soccer players teach private lessons in the offseason using their names and likenesses to promote the business. Or they sell their likeness to a larger company that sells the lessons featuring the athlete.

– Football players are hired as trainers at gyms or specialty workout facilities that market “Train like Trahan.”

– A couple of the baseball players get together and run a summer camp for the thousands of little league and junior high players in the Houston area.

– An astute basketball player starts a summer league team or his own tournament and gets it sponsored by the apparel company.

– Collegiate golfers from across the state come together to host a series of tournaments or build a summer junior tour. Or they give lessons in conjunction with a golf course.

– Athletes from around the world are paid by local sporting associations as goodwill ambassadors or to make appearances in the offseason. Who wouldn’t have wanted Leonie Harm and her remarkable story as the face of their group?

– Bars, clubs, and potentially casinos hire athletes as marketing representatives.

– Party promoters pay athletes appearance fees in order to list them as hosts for events.

– Charities pay athletes to use their name and image to fundraise. Maybe even Cougar Pride does this.

– Other charities will have them make calls or other personal appearances to raise money.

– Athletes will be paid by agents to recruit other athletes from their school in order to do deals like the ones above or to help secure representation at the pro level.

– Someone at each school will become a spokesman for a local accountant in order to help the athletes from that school navigate the tax laws that they’ll have to deal with for the first time in their lives.

Does anyone have an issue with these ways of making money? Yes, it’s true that 99% of the attention will be paid to the QB and the DT and the schools/companies trying to induce recruits with deals. But 99% of the names, images, and likeness rule will benefit the student-athletes that aren’t getting the big deals.

I’m in favor of that. And I’m in favor of tighter and harsher rules for anyone caught manipulating this system. We don’t have to lose the beauty of college sports in order to give student-athletes reasonable benefits.

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