NIL deal benefits student-athletes – Old Gold & Black

The ability to leverage name, image and likeness is a game-changer

For the first time in the 115-year history of the NCAA, student-athletes can now legally earn money through sponsorships and branded agreements using their name, image and likeness. Before even debating the merits of this new rule, let me ask you: who (or maybe what) is a student-athlete?

The term student-athlete was introduced by the NCAA in 1956 for legal and financial reasons. It essentially protects the NCAA and college athletic departments from lawsuits for underpaying their “employees.” We have never heard of student-musicians, student-biologists, student-actors. So why the student-athletes?

It’s simple: if they’re students, you don’t have to pay them. If anything, scholarships, accommodation, free materials, and access to facilities are more than fair compensation for hobbyists looking for a platform to exercise their passion, isn’t it not ?

Not really.

In 2019, the total sports income reported by the NCAA was $ 18.9 billion. No one enjoys college sports more than the United States. We have a glorified view of amateur athletes, people who play just for the love of the sport. Sounds like a great idea, except it’s a cover for the billion dollar business of college track and field.

You have to ask yourself, who really benefits from amateurism?

Among many sports departments, coach salaries account for almost half of total expenses. The athletic director is often the highest paid employee in the university. In reality, very little of the income generated by athletics goes to student-athletes.

The Delta Cost Project – a database that lists the finances of all U.S. public universities – shows that if you were to split college sports income, even the lowest paid players would be paid twice as much as their attendance grants. .

It also brings to the fore a socio-economic problem: 78% of coaches are white, while a majority of players who play income-generating sports (football and basketball) are black.

Student-athletes go to practice at 7 a.m. and fitness at 4 p.m., train on game days, to come home and complete a math quiz; they gambled during a global pandemic, only to get the smallest piece of the pie. When they finally get the right to use their fame to earn a few extra dollars, some question them for their integrity.

Aleeya Hutchins, a 19-year-old athlete at Wake Forest University with over 1,000,000 followers on TikTok and 71,000 followers on Instagram recently signed a branding deal with clothing brand Free People.

For her, and for thousands of other student-athletes, the new NIL rules provide an opportunity to grow off the field.

Playing varsity sport is a full-time job, so not everyone will take the time to find sponsors, and that’s okay.

Wake Forest starting quarterback Sam Hartman thinks that “if I play well, deals will come. ”

For student-athletes who have the privilege of financial stability, NIL could be an optional side-gig. For others, it can be a game-changer.

Critics of the NIL decision often speak of the commercialization of college sports. Sorry to tell you, but it’s already a billion dollar business.

Others speculate that NIL runs counter to team spirit and creates divisions between star athletes who could make thousands of dollars and extras who don’t have a contract with the brand. However, star athletes have always received different treatment. Some team members have scholarships, some don’t. Some people drive to train in their Range Rover while others ration their meals to get a few hundred dollars more into their allowance.

In a recent Washington Post article, Victoria Jackson, a former Division 1 track athlete, highlighted the disparities between paid and non-paid sports. Most athletes in unpaid sports get partial scholarships and have to find a way to cover tuition fees, while competing at a high level, Jackson explained.

NIL paves the way for a college education and professional career that previously might have been a choice. Olympic gymnasts like Simone Biles, Nastia Liukin, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber provide a prime example of this change. They all traded their college eligibility to earn money through endorsements. The tendency among American gymnasts has been to pursue their careers first and then to go to school after earning enough money.

Now they can potentially do both and get a degree.


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Richard V. Johnson

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