NCAA Board of Directors Suspend NIL Rules Amid National Push for Abolishment

The NCAA’s Board of Directors has officially decided to suspend the organization’s rules regarding limitations on an athlete’s name, image, and likeness. 

Under the suspension, college athletes around the country will be able to make money as professional athletes, allowing them to monetize social media accounts, sign endorsements, and participate in advertising campaigns. 

The move comes amid recent turmoil surrounding the controversial rule in the NCAA and around the country. In September of 2019, California became the first state to sign a law prohibiting the NIL rule, allowing college athletes to monetize their sport. Several states followed the measure, causing the NCAA to vow to “modernize the NIL rules by the 2021-2022 season.” However, the timeline was pushed forward, propelled by the fact that several states will implement their laws in the coming weeks. 

Under the new policy, colleges in states where there are already NIL laws enacted will be required to follow those rules. Meanwhile, in states where there are currently no laws enacted, the NCAA is encouraging the governments to enact such policies to use as guidance. 

According to the NCAA, the current suspension of the NIL rule will be temporary, with the hopes that national legislation will be enacted in the coming months. In addition, under the suspension, schools will not be allowed to pay athletes directly.

In the sport of swimming and diving, the NIL rule has resulted in several notable names limiting, or opting out of, their NCAA eligibility. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, decided to turn pro at the age of 15, foregoing an NCAA career. Michael Andrew took a similar route when he decided to turn pro at the age of 14. 

Although they did compete in the NCAA, both Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin decided to turn pro after 2 years of college swimming, electing to pursue endorsement deals. Simone Manuel also elected to turn pro before her final season at Stanford. 

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Mark Rauterkus
1 year ago

Just in time for calendar season. Oh, the firefighters are going to be mad.

Podium Pouter
1 year ago

I assume this means that had this rule been suspended in 2019 or much earlier, Regan Smith would have been able to collect the approximately $80K in prize bonuses for setting two World Records. Similarly for KL in the years leading up to her turning pro in 2018 (lots of money left on the table). Am I correct? Or are these different issues?

Reply to  Podium Pouter
1 year ago

I don’t see them as the same as Regan is not governed by NCAA rules. I’m also not certain that any payment for setting a world record qualifies as income from NIL. The rule that is affected is how the NCAA defines one’s amateur status – which I think will need to be adjusted – but, I don’t see the two concepts as being on in the same. Just one perspective.

Sun Yangs Hammer
1 year ago

Absolutely smashing. I can finally get my Nike contract for SwimSwam commenting

Bill Price
1 year ago

The NCAA is looking for national legislation on this issue. Why? Since the NCAA has suspended its rule what would legislation be for? The NIL laws recently enacted in several states was specifically aimed at restricting the NCAA from enforcing their amateurism standard as it related to NIL. It did not grant athletes the right to benefit from NIL — they already have that right — the laws said that the NCAA could not restrict this right. The NCAA saw the writing on the wall and quickly dropped its rule to head off new lawsuits, which given the Kavanaugh concurrence in the Alston decision may put the entire idea of amateurism in the dustbin.

Reply to  Bill Price
1 year ago

While the NCAA has waived its rule, the long-term goal is to have some kind of guardrails on the system. This requires new legislation – no sports league operates just with a wide-open marketing plan.

National legislation will standardize this across all of the NCAA’s member institutions (remember, the NCAA is just the collective voice of its membership) so that California doesn’t say “college athletes can do whatever they want” and Alabama says “college athletes can only do these things.”

The NCAA would’ve liked to have kept a hardline amateurism in place, but as you said, when it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, their next logical goal is to create a standard framework.

This process made it clear… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

While I understand your point about trying to ensure that there is a single set of regulations governing a particular issue (as opposed to a patchwork of rules that vary from state to state), ANY attempt to create a “standard framework” necessarily involves the setting of limits – which will just shift the front lines and redefine what the litigation was about. My guess is that the arms race has just commenced and that shady boosters, bookies, etc., are already sharpening their knives to figure out how to host virtual training sessions with Star Athlete A with 1,000’s of “logged-in” participants that just happens to net Start Athlete A a cool $100,000. Per month. I think that the interesting thing… Read more »

Sponsored University
1 year ago

This is particularly crazy for running right now. A number of T&F athletes from high school/college just turned pro and competed at trials with new sponsors and big multi-year shoe contracts.

It’s unbelievable states are forcing the NCAA’s hand and the NCAA is still not budging nationally. Great for states to simply pass them by. How about you permanently look like fools while states keep permanently putting you in your place.

NCAA is literally pushing demonetizing athletes as “guidance.” Getting a free ride is not making a salary. it just helps with future debts. It’s not real income that can be saved, invested, used to purchase things. Getting a free ride mostly helps parents get a free ride, assuming parents… Read more »

1 year ago

The NCAA previously came down on some athletes who had their own T Shirt company that was making a small profit. That kind of crap needs to end. It was alleged that they were profiting on their status as athletes.

1 year ago

Will this allow athletes to accept prize money? Or can they only collect on endorsements?

Reply to  RHMSwim
1 year ago

From ESPN.

NCAA rules that prevent schools from paying players directly remain intact. The board directed schools to make sure that payments to athletes are not expressly for their athletic achievements…

It’s tough to tell from the article if that applies only to NCAA sanctioned athletic achievements or not.

Bill Price
Reply to  frug
1 year ago

The ruling opens the way for all athletes to benefit from NIL opportunities, not just NCAA athletes. This decision is based on antitrust law, thus other organizations that have rules similar to NCAA amateur rules, high school governing bodies for example, may also need to look at changes.

Awsi Dooger
1 year ago

Other examples beyond swimming. Sydney McLaughlin turned pro after only one year at Kentucky and likewise Athing Mu just last week after one year at Texas A&M, signing with Nike. I think the ultra elite will still play it that way. This is huge benefit to levels just below that, top college athletes who can now grind out a profit especially if they know how to establish name recognition and popularity via social media. Also obviously the football players who often become superstars early in college yet have to wait 3 years before becoming draft eligible.

Last edited 1 year ago by Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 year ago

Good analysis.

I think for some who turn pro in individual sports, controlling your own schedule is a huge part of the decision. Training and competing when you want, taking classes when you want, etc.

Rick Paine
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

I am hearing from some coaches that the school will teach the kids how to market themselves

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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