When the clock struck midnight Thursday morning, college athletics as we have known them changed.
Many will argue things changed for the better.
Reacting to last week’s Supreme Court ruling, the NCAA instituted an interim plan that will allow college athletes across the board to be compensated for use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) and still maintain their college eligibility. The plan is a landmark agreement that the Division I Council voted to recommend to the Division I Board of Directors on erlier this week.
It has already gone into effect.
There are still are a lot of moving parts to this, with 20 states already having passed NIL legislation. The interim NIL policy does not include pay-for-play.
In the meantime, student-athletes have already begun to make moves to cash in on their names and likenesses, and it started in the SWAC. Jackson State defensive end Antwan Owens was the first Division I athlete to sign an NIL deal when he signed a sponsorship deal with 3 Kings Grooming. Owens reportedly signed with the Black-owned hair product company at midnight when the new rules went into effect.
There are reports that athletes are beginning to trademark their names in preparation to cash in.
Former Manvel and UH quarterback D’Eriq King, who is now playing for the Miami Hurricanes, and Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton have signed on as co-founders of Dreamfield, which will book live events for student-athletes going forward. But that is just the beginning of their vision of what Dreamfield can do for college athletes as entrepreneurs.
“We are entering a new era of technology that allows sports trading cards to move from the physical realm to the digital one, and I am proud to be on the forefront of change,” King said in a statement to ESPN.com.
But the NCAA, which was forced to react after several states passed legislation for student-athletes to receive payments, is looking for guidance from Congress which may or may not come soon.
“With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”
The Senate Committee on Commerce deemed Thursday as a major victory for student-athletes and for college sports in general as the ruling goes much further than just the NIL policy.
“Today’s decision from the NCAA is a welcomed acknowledgment that college athletics must do more for college athletes,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, said in a statement. “However, today’s interim action is no substitute for a national standard that not only gives our student athletes the ability to control their own Name, Image and Likeness rights, but also includes health care, safety, scholarship and transfer protections. I look forward to continuing to work towards a bipartisan plan that accomplishes those goals while setting one uniform standard across the country so all of our athletes and schools can safely compete on a level playing field.”