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NIL Deals Changing College Athletics


As the college football bowl season approaches, many JMU fans, alumni, and prospective students are wishing the team could be awarded for the success they have found on the gridiron. However, the two year bowl ban placed on JMU by the NCAA for switching from the FCS to FBS level is one example of some recent contentious issues at the NCAA.


College athletics is a growing industry with a huge fan base that brings billions of dollars in revenue from T.V deals and sponsorships. Until June 2021, college athletes could not benefit from any sponsorship or brand deal due to NCAA rules. Then, the Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA was violating antitrust laws and allowed athletes to benefit from their name, image, and license and sign deals to bring in cash. It has been a controversial topic in Congress and also in NCAA hearings to determine how to regulate how to control college athletics to turn into professional sports.


It’s worth noting that before NIL, many athletes were considered to be living below the poverty line, even though they were on full scholarship.


Former Ole Miss QB, Bo Wallace mentioned in a news article that many athletes go to bed hungry at night and showed that the NCAA was restricting daily life and affecting college students ability to do daily school work. Athletes need nutrients to continue to succeed and compete at the high levels of competition they compete at, and if they can’t get the basic necessities to not be hungry, then the NCAA restricted one of their natural rights. They also didn’t allow athletes to showcase their creative ability and didn’t allow them to benefit from social media such as Youtube or they would be banned from competing as seen with Donald De La Haya who was a punter at UCF. They even banned Silas Macias from competing due to taking living arrangements to keep him from being homeless calling them “illegal benefits.”


State legislatures started to pass state laws in mid 2019 to allow athletes to benefit from certain activities they participated in. When the Supreme Court passed NCCA v. Aston where they sided with college athletes being compensated, Congress began to hold hearings with both athletes and NCAA members to consider creating a national law to regulate to what extent college athletes should be compensated. The discussion also landed in the Oval Office as President Biden wanted to learn more about why athletes should be benefited. This put the NCAA right onto the national stage and made them answer questions as to why they prohibited athletes from receiving certain benefits that helped them compete and also academically.


Now that NIL is well established and is here to stay, there are now debates on how to regulate it so it can be fair between all levels of college competition. Under the current rules, all schools or conferences can decide how they can regulate NIL. This leaves hundreds of ways NIL can be regulated and can give larger schools who have more money to benefit more than smaller schools that don’t have large budgets in the recruiting industry. Top athletes such as Bronny James, Shedur Sanders, Livvy Dunne, Arch Manning, and Caleb Wiliams are all making north of the $2 Million mark. NIL allows athletes to benefit so they can get financial aid, express themselves, and create relationships with companies they can use after college, however if Congress doesn’t step in and create a national law, then college athletics will turn into pro sports and we will lose amateur sports as we know it.

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