LEAD1 Byte of the Week: NIL and Government Intervention

There a lot of unknowns around name, image, and likeness (NIL) but it is clear the college model is evolving, as illustrated by the formation of the newly appointed NCAA NIL workgroup.

I was on a Knight Commission panel last week and discussed federal and state bills related to name, image and likeness or NIL which have been a catalyst for the formation of the newly appointed NCAA NIL work-group.

On the same day of the Knight Commission meeting, a bill in California was approved by the state Senate that would allow student-athletes to earn compensation for use of their own name, image, or likeness and obtain professional representation such as a sports agent. The bill, which applies to all California schools, now heads to the state Assembly for consideration.

The bill raises a lot of questions. What happens if California and other states pass bills that don’t fit the NCAA model? Will the NCAA have to pressure these states to change as they did North Carolina when they boycotted championships from the state for passing the discriminatory bathroom bill?

The Pac-12, which has four schools in California, is currently undergoing negotiations for an equity raise. That could be complicated if there is a potential threat that these California Pac-12 schools may be subject to sanctions by the NCAA, if the legislation passes.

The good news is that the bill, if passed, doesn’t go into effect till 2023. This provides time to defeat the legislation in the Assembly and prepare a response if it does pass. As the Senate bill passed overwhelmingly, the fight in the Assembly will be tough.

There a lot of unknowns around NIL but it is clear the college model is continuing to evolve, and that is a good thing.