College athletes could start receiving compensation for the use of their image from Thursday

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During Ennis Rakestraw Jr.’s first year of college, the former Duncanville star cornerback learned many lessons, one of which was the economic disparities in today’s college athletic landscape.

“I didn’t know how much work the varsity athletes put in and how much the universities earn, when the athletes just make their allowance,” said Rakestraw, who started last year as a freshman at Missouri in the Southeastern Conference is rich in talent. “But now that I’m in this situation, and I see it for myself, [athletes] are really getting (running out of) … a lot of money.

Rakestraw refers to the varsity athletes he has faced, such as Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith, who signed a more than $ 20 million guaranteed deal after winning the Heisman Trophy and being selected in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Or athletes like former Wylie goalie Sarah Fuller, who last fall became the first woman to play in a Power 5 soccer game. Her only kick for Vanderbilt, according to an estimate provided to CBS Sports, has instantly increased the value of its social media platforms to over $ 160,000 per year.

“The things we do, we deserve something,” Rakestraw said.

This refrain has been discussed for years, but this time college athletes like Rakestraw are about to have their chance.

The era of name, image and likeness (NIL) begins on Thursday, which means college athletes will now be allowed to be paid beyond traditional scholarship limits. Whether it’s autograph signatures, endorsements and advertising deals – from local and national businesses – varsity athletes can now earn money and maintain college eligibility.

In a last-second move, the NCAA Division I board of governors on Wednesday approved an interim plan to suspend rules preventing student-athletes from benefiting from their NIL.

In other words, athletes from states without NIL laws will also receive compensation for their likeness until federal law or permanent NCAA rules are passed.

It took years for varsity athletics to reach this stage, but now that it is, the group that was prevented from getting a piece of the pie are now taking a seat at the table.

“Inexcusable neglect”

Nellie Drew, professor of sports law and director of the Center for the Advancement of Sport at the University of Buffalo Law School, described the moment as a “game changer” in March, as dozens of states began to move forward. on NIL laws.

Four months and a historic wave of legislation later, the NCAA is considering 24 individual NIL bills in states across the country, with a few more in the process of being signed by governors.

Of the many issues facing the NCAA, few exceed the logistical nightmare of having to deal with the myriad of different bills across the country, as well as dozens of other states without NIL laws.

Despite efforts to update its NIL plan in 2019, the NCAA is still not done and has chosen to wait for federal congressional legislation that has yet to be passed, forcing Interim NIL Policy.

The bottom line, Drew noted, is that this problem hasn’t really hit the NCAA.

Between the explosion of rights and media opportunities with O’Bannon v. NCAA and the huge sums of money that go into costume pockets, this track is hardly made out of breadcrumbs.

“It’s a time of transition,” Drew said. “And quite honestly, the piece that still blocks me is the fact that it was completely predictable. This has developed over the decades. As soon as the O’Bannon case was filed, there should have been some anticipation that we needed to rethink the way we operate. “

Drew added: “The problem, of course, is that a lot of people have a lot of skin in this game as it is now. People didn’t want to give up the status quo.

Tim Nevius, a former NCAA investigator turned college sports lawyer, says the only reason state laws are passed is the NCAA’s refusal to change its NIL rules, even 12 years after the filing of the law. O’Bannon case.

“Twelve years later, and just days before the state’s first bills came into effect, they still don’t have a plan. This is inexcusable negligence, especially for a multi-billion dollar industry, ”Nevius said. “The unwillingness to adapt and the insistence on clinging to an outdated rule structure is a disservice to the athletes that this organization suggests it is defending and promoting.”

Long term plan or not, changes are about to happen in the NCAA, and the effects could be immediate.

Starting Thursday, Icon Source – a company that has connected brands with athletes and celebrities since 2019 – is set to launch its collegiate platform. At the same time, hundreds of profiles belonging to university athletes that have already been created will be filled in the system.

Immediately, companies will be able to run sponsorship deals directly to athletes in an interface that Icon Source vice president Drew Butler compares to Zillow for real estate or match.com for fixtures.

“Simply put, we are the market,” said Butler, a former college and NFL bettor.

Butler said Icon Source works as a simplified “conduit” for varsity athlete-business deals – a “third party” “agnostic” designed to facilitate opportunity. For a 10% fee from both parties, Icon Source will match companies and athletes, generate contracts, maintain compliance data, and provide tax documents.

Icon Source is one of many companies poised to enter the NIL era. The INFLCR, which Icon Source has partnered with for compliance purposes, has also partnered with several universities to educate athletes about NIL opportunities. Opendorse and Twitter have also teamed up to help student-athletes monetize their tweets.

It is a new market with many opportunities, and varsity athletes will be at the center of it.

“Brands are definitely looking to activate student athletes,” said Butler, “and that’s the most exciting part. It’s a historic day in varsity sport, and we’re happy to be at it. the avant-garde. “

“Change of power”

Nevius predicts that this era will be seen as a signal of a “shift in power” towards athletes that will continue in this direction, a view echoed by many after the United States Supreme Court ruled against the proceeding. varsity athletics executive in NCAA v. Alston last week.

The unanimous decision in the antitrust case upheld the lower court’s ruling, declaring that the NCAA’s restrictions on educational benefits for student-athletes violated antitrust laws. While not a pay-to-play case, pundits believed at the time that it could turn out to be the last major domino to fall before even bigger changes occur.

In a concurring opinion by Judge Brett Kavanaugh that Drew called “breathtaking”, justice toast the NCAA, writing “Nowhere else in America can companies agree not to pay their workers the right rate. market on the theory that their product is defined. by not paying their workers at the fair market rate.

“The NCAA is not above the law,” Kavanaugh wrote.

The shift in power towards student-athletes that Nevius and Drew both highlighted is long overdue. The historic moment is “encouraging,” said Nevius, but he is also disappointed with the time it has taken for student-athletes to see progress.

“My disappointment is the result of seeing this business from the inside out and the real consequences it has on athletes and their families,” said Nevius. “The NCAA often refuses to recognize the devastating results of far too many college athletes and their families, especially when they have been used and then thrown away.”

“Now I’ll have the chance”

Caden Sterns, a former Texas Longhorns safety officer, has never been able to reap the benefits of the NIL, nor have the thousands of other varsity athletes before him.

Sterns, a fifth-round pick for the Denver Broncos, played his final season for Texas last year. Once the deal was over, Texas decided to fire head coach Tom Herman, paying him and his staff a $ 24 million buyout. According to Bloomberg, the Football Bowl Subdivision’s total coach buybacks last year was around $ 65 million.

After sacking Herman, Texas hired former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian on a four-year, $ 34.2 million guaranteed contract. In college sports, Sterns was aware of the money made by everyone except the players who generated it.

“You [players] you can’t profit or earn money with your own name, but you see coaches with multi-million dollar contracts; you see them in the ads and you see them having agents, ”Sterns said. The news in February. “And then you contradict yourself by calling it amateur sport.”

For Rakestraw, Thursday is a day to be excited for.

When Rakestraw was in Duncanville, he went from being under-recruited to being sought after by some of the best schools in the country. He’s been nominated The morning news from Dallas‘Defensive player of the year. He chose Missouri over Alabama and became a starter in his first season.

Rakestraw noticed, with his rising image, that he has a platform. And with this, he has the opportunity to earn some money for himself, while being in college. It motivates him even as a soccer player – because the better the game, the better the pay.

“I was never the richest and I was never the poorest, but I never had any money for myself,” he said. “Now I will have the chance to earn money and use it however I want to use it.”

Rakestraw added, “It’s going to be great for me. I’m just glad this happened to me while I was in college.


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