Last summer, almost a year ago, NCAA Division I conferences were more publicly divided than ever.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some decided to play soccer. Others decided not to play soccer. And then some really didn’t know what to do. Lines were drawn, both in the media and in private.
We are playing and we will make sure it is safe!
Well, we are not playing because it cannot be done safely!
They went round and round in one of the most divisive and fractured situations in the organization’s history. Surely, the association’s decision makers – athletic directors, league commissioners, and school presidents – would never again be so divided on any issue.
And then it came this year, this summer, and more specifically, this week.
“Everyone has their own agenda,” says one sports manager.
The NCAA enters one of the most important weeks in its 115-year history as it plans to bring a proverbial wrecking ball to a part of its own rules of amateurism by allowing athletes to benefit from its name, image, and likeness ( NIL) through the backrest. agreements, business ventures and public appearances.
However, they are divided on exactly how to do it. For the most part, there are two options before them.
Option A: Provide detailed, restrictive uniform legislation for schools (in states without a state NIL law) to follow in an orderly manner, but risk more successful antitrust lawsuits (i.e., Alston) because you are conspiring to prohibit at least some compensation for athletes.
Option B: Use a more permissive minimalist policy that allows schools (in states without a state NIL law) to create their own rules, but risk a hodgepodge of policies governing NIL.
How do you avoid the two judgments and a mosaic of rules? The answer is, probably not.
“There is no perfect answer,” says Gabe Feldman, a Tulane sports law professor who has been involved with this topic for years.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby describes the NCAA’s latest dilemma as an ongoing process. It has a fairly large group that supports a proposal that leans, on the continuum, towards Option A (restrictive and uniform legislation). It has a smaller and more vocal group in favor of a proposal that leans towards Option B (permissive and minimalist legislation). And then there are the attorneys, who are directly in the corner of Option B.
Y spoke with two senior NCAA leaders, Bowlsby and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who support each of the options. In fact, Sankey and a few others (namely ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips) submitted a proposal two weeks ago. similar to the one finally selected by the NCAA leaders, presented as an alternative solution to avoid litigation after Alston’s Supreme Court ruling and conflicts with state laws.
“I respect the work done by the legislative solutions group, but the reality is that many of the proposals were written a year ago, in a different environment,” says Sankey. “Those proposals have not been adapted to a different environment. What has been presented as an alternative is a much more direct and concise legislation ”.
Bowlsby is a member of the NCAA Legislative Solutions Group, a committee of school administrators that spent two years developing detailed NCAA NIL legislation (Option A). Naturally, you are in favor of that solution.
“I feel like it is the responsibility of the legislative solutions group to be better stewards of the interests of the members,” he says. “They count on us as a guide. When there is a special committee assigned to do the job, they like you to do it. I tend towards more orientation because that is what the members ask for. Some tend to be less oriented.
“Reasonable people can disagree,” he continues. “The people on the opposite side of this and their lawyers, I agree all the time on the issues. We are just in a different position right now. “
Weekend, Illustrated Sports obtained the NIL solution proposed by the NCAA. It is available to read here. In short, the members reached a compromise, at least as much as the NCAA legal team allowed. Your proposed solution is closer to Option B — much closer — than Option A.
As reported last week by Y and others, states can develop and enforce their own NIL policy while using a short list of prohibitions as a guide, all geared toward avoiding pay-per-play agreements.
Around college sports, some believe it is a great solution. Others say it is the only possible solution. And then many think it is a nightmare solution.
“It’s hard to believe they will let the schools do it themselves,” says an outsider who used to work in the college sports industry and still has a keen interest in it. “That goes back to the 1950s and 1960s, when there was rampant deception. These are state institutions. They are not entrepreneurial companies ”.
On Monday, the NCAA DI Council is scheduled to discuss the NIL proposal in a special meeting, pass comments to the DI Board of Directors, and then, for lack of a better phrase, get out of the way.
“This is in the hands of the Board,” said a senior administrator Y In the past week.
DI’s Board of Directors is scheduled to meet on Wednesday where they will adopt the proposal. Will you adjust the current solution and provide more guidance to member schools? Institutions clearly want more guardrails, or at least a more detailed guide.
Among some of the biggest problems for schools is how to handle athletes who wear school brands and logos while endorsing a product. The legislative solutions group’s plan strictly prohibits this.
“We may get to a point where student athletes pay a license fee like others do. Because of the relationship, student athletes may not have to pay a fee, “says Bowlsby,” but the legislative solutions group took a conservative approach and did not think that students could use trademarks and logos. “
This is not the only problem, says Bowlsby. The legislative solution group’s proposal offers exactly what an athlete can and cannot do. The minimalist NCAA proposal, in addition to excluding pay-per-play, does not.
The minimalist proposition represents “the upper end of the food chain,” says Bowlsby. When asked for clarification, he says: “In the case of the SEC, all but one of its states has a [NIL] law in force and it seems that one will have one by July 1. They don’t have to worry about the NCAA having a rule. They are situationally different. “
One of the real problems with the minimalist proposal is that it could actually put some schools at a disadvantage in states with a state law, says Julie Sommer, a member of the Drake Group who has studied the various state NIL laws, at least seven of them. which will go into effect on July 1. Schools in the states must follow their state NIL laws, while those in states without a law, which were initially thought to be disadvantaged, could gain an advantage by creating their own less restrictive rules for their athletes.
“Who has the advantage now?” Sommer says. “The states that did nothing could be laughing. They can do whatever they want and make it less restrictive when it comes to hiring perks. “
Another problem: schools are rushing to create policy, especially those low-income institutions.
“I think everyone is ready? No, ”says Sankey. “I think that’s what reality will dictate? Yes. They will have to be prepared. That’s part of being a member of NCAA Division I in 2021. “
Everyone, at least, agrees on two things: (1) this minimalist proposal is only temporary and is constantly evolving; and (2) a uniform federal bill from Congress is needed.
“I don’t think this is the healthiest environment,” says Sankey.
And here they all are, a year after one of the most divisive moments in the association’s history:Do we play soccer or not? –Administrators are divided on another issue as the game’s clocks approach zero.
“We thought we could have a fire drill at the end of all this,” says Bowlsby, “and we do.”
More from Ross Dellenger:
• Behind the trend of legends ditching college sports
• Why 12 worked: within the creation of a new playoff model
• The secluded Florida region where soccer coaches ‘find peace’
• Student-Athletes voice their opinion to oppose the NCAA alternative NIL proposal.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.