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The Impact of College 'Name-Image-Likeness' Rule Changes on Youth and High School Sports

Baseball and Glove

Since September of 2019, when California was the first state to pass legislation relating to name, image, and likeness, or NIL, the topic has been widely circulated and discussed. NIL legislation was recently passed in all 50 states which allows college athletes to make money off of their name, image, and likeness.

Allie Olnowich (Former College Ice Hockey Player, Syracuse University) and Dylan Kirton (Baseball Player, Cornell University), both current or former collegiate athletes and now PCA interns, share their thoughts on the recently passed Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) laws.

Briefly describe your awareness and understanding of the NIL opportunity and how it has been presented or communicated to you. Is there anything that excites you?

Allie: I have a general idea and understanding of what the new NIL rules mean and how they can be used. Since I graduated already, I don’t necessarily get to take direct advantage of them, but I am very happy for the opportunities presented to my friends and former teammates. I’m excited that student-athletes can use their name, image, and likeness to do what they want to do after all of the hard work they put in. 

Dylan: As of right now my understanding is very limited. Aside from a couple of emails, my school really hasn't alerted me to the various opportunities at hand and how the NCAA will handle them in the future. A majority of my knowledge has come from self-research on the topic.

If you were currently in high school, would taking advantage of the NIL opportunities be important to you as you considered playing beyond high school? Why or why not?

Allie: If I was a player not on scholarship, I would rank the opportunity to take advantage of the new NIL rules as a factor for choosing schools high up on my list. At most universities, once you become an upperclassman you are presented with the opportunity to live off-campus which comes with the cost of food, rent, gas, etc., so gaining proper sponsorship opportunities can relieve a lot of that stress for a student-athlete in that position. Additionally, taking advantage of the NIL opportunities is a great way to build your personal brand, especially if you have the opportunity to continue your playing career after college.

Dylan: Since I am in a league where scholarships are not offered, looking back if I had the ability to potentially make money from the new NIL rules, my college list would definitely look a lot different. Many athletes are persuaded away from continuing athletics into college due to factors such as money. Furthermore, since a college can offer only so many scholarships, many high school students quit before even testing the waters citing that they don't have the talent to be on scholarship. I believe with the new NIL rules, there could be a major increase in the pool of high school student-athletes considering playing in college.

What are some of your concerns about the new NIL laws?

Allie: I have a couple of concerns about the new NIL laws, but overall I think this is a very positive step for student-athletes. One concern I have is that companies will take advantage of student-athletes since this experience is not only new to the student-athletes themselves but the entirety of the NCAA. Another concern is that student-athletes won’t know which companies they can or cannot pursue to work with and that could potentially put their eligibility in jeopardy. Although the new NIL laws allow you to work with school-appropriate companies, some companies create issues if they have sub-businesses related to gambling for example. Just because these laws allow student-athletes to profit off of their name, image, and likeness, the same NCAA and amateurism rules apply.

Dylan: Some concerns I have regarding the new NIL laws are that because the laws are relatively new, I fear that many student-athletes will jump right in without proper knowledge or representation. The possibility of shady or misunderstood deals agreed to by student-athletes with the hope that they’ll make a lot of money is a scary thought. Additionally, another concern can be seen internally, with the ability to make money now for many college athletes, it is obvious that the big-name players would get the best offers. For me, this trend could potentially breed jealousy among teammates and be a potential hazard to team cultures as the value of 'team' in sports could shift to valuing the individual because of the new rules.