In an article for Inside Higher Ed, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Audrey Anderson discussed the NCAA Board of Governors’ recent approval of recommendations to allow collegiate athletes to be paid for third-party endorsements. The board approved in full the recommendations of an NCAA Working Group convened last fall to consider how to “modernize” NCAA rules concerning possible compensation to student-athletes for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL). Each Division of the NCAA will now craft new rules based on the recommendations to be put in place by the 2021 academic year.

Despite the expansion of NIL rights, guardrails preventing compensation of athletes from some sources could put schools and the NCAA at risk. “Whenever the colleges are agreeing among themselves how athletes will not get paid, they can come under antitrust law,” Audrey said.

In addition, the fact that the recommended expansion of NIL rights still precludes student-athletes from using their schools’ trademarks and logos may mean that states are not willing to accept the NCAA’s preferred solution in place of their own legislation. “You can splash the picture of your star quarterback all over town, but when the star quarterback starts to make money off of that, he can’t use your logo at all,” Audrey explained. “I think some people will find that to be unfair. It’ll be interesting to see what the states do, if anything, in reaction to this.”

The full article, “College Athlete Pay Structure Takes Form,” was published on April 30 by Inside Higher Ed and is available online.