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  • Writer's pictureMatt Farrell

NIL Delay Causing a ‘Stampede’ & False Sense of Security

Have you ever studied for a Monday test only to get an opportunistic snow delay and have the test pushed to Tuesday? It’s a gift for more time to study, right?

Yes, but human nature is to wait until the next day and just repeat the same fire drill of cramming.

We are seeing a similar situation in intercollegiate athletics with name, image and likeness (NIL). Universities and student-athletes geared up for a 2021 implementation of NIL, however that was delayed indefinitely by the NCAA. This can create a false sense of security, especially for those universities that are taking a “let’s wait and see what the final legislation is” approach.

Baseball players still take BP even if they don’t know who the opponent’s starting pitcher is yet.

“There’s going to be a stampede of NIL laws in many of these state houses so they don’t get left behind,” Ramogi Huma, the executive director of the National College Players Association, told Sports Illustrated.

More states are proposing legislation – Iowa, New Mexico, Mississippi, Maryland and Texas – and others such as California are looking at moving up their implementation dates. This adds to the existing states of California, Nebraska, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey and Michigan for a total of 11 states with either final or active legislation.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (MA-03), a member of the U.S. House Committee for Energy and Commerce and a former college athlete, introduced The College Athlete Economic Freedom Act on Feb. 4, 2021. This adds to other bills in the U.S. Congress.

What once seemed to be a “back burner” legislative item federally due to COVID-19 and other national matters, now seems to have new legs.

COVID-19 rightfully bears partial responsibility for absorbing much of the time, focus and energy of athletic departments in 2020 and the foreseeable future of 2021. Athletic departments are dealing with budget shortfalls and an “all hands-on deck” mode simply to execute day-to-day operations right now, let alone plan for the future.

So, is it time to sit back and wait until all the details of NIL are decided? No, and here’s why:

  • Student-athletes are already weighing whether a university has an NIL program as part of their decision-making process and there is an advantage of having a pro-active program in place

  • Florida’s law goes into effect this summer and now several states are targeting the same timeline

  • It’s an opportunity to control your own destiny, when you can anticipate 80-90% of what to expect on NIL legislation

  • It’s the opportunity to adapt a program to your culture, now

  • By starting your own program, it will provide heightened awareness of your own needs and make you better informed on the direction of legislation, or just give you time to fix shortcomings

  • Other schools are already doing it, with just one example of the recent announcement from the University of Florida

It is a certainty that NIL is coming, so it’s time to prepare.

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