SPOKANE, Wash. — On Wednesday, the NCAA moved forward to compensate name, image, and likeness for student athletes.
There will be a vote held in January, and if all goes according to plan, athletes will be compensated starting at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.
Basically, this means athletes are now eligible to profit off themselves. They can promote products, do meet-and-greets or autograph signings and make money off of personal businesses, like a podcast or a YouTube channel. Athletes can'tuse their school logos or trademarks to promote products or themselves in any way.
There a lot of things that cannot be done in terms of NIL, but perhaps the most important is that boosters can't use endorsements as a pay-for-play type of situation. Boosters can’t use endorsements to entice an athlete to come to a school.
Let’s be real here, this is going to happen (it already does, just under the table) and there are going to be some serious growing pains.
I say that all to set up this: Even if by some miracle boosters around the country follow that rule, name, image, and likeness will impact our local universities, albeit in different ways.
The school that could be most affected by this in our region is Washington State. I’m just not sure if it’s for better or worse.
Here’s the case for worse: The Cougs are already up against some serious hurdles with the Oregon’s, USC’s and Washington’s of the world. This decision could make that divide even deeper. There is just more money and more exposure at those schools. More money and more exposure equals more promotional dollars for student athletes.
To be fair, Wazzu isn’t recruiting the four-stars and the five-stars of the world that the Oregon’s and UW’s are, but I think it’s safe to say they’d like to be. This decision could make that more difficult.
I know you’re thinking, "Well, Gardner Minshew could’ve made a lot of money a few years ago," and you’re correct. I’m just saying it could be less likely for athletes to make money at a high level at WSU as compared to some other Pac-12 schools.
Here’s the case for better: The Cougs are a big fish in a small pond. Businesses around Pullman or Spokane could seek out college athletes endorsements more than businesses in Los Angeles, so athletes could get endorsement deals sooner and thus make money more quickly.
It boils down to this: Do you want to make a little bit of money that’s more guaranteed (i.e. in a smaller market), or do you want to go for the big bucks that aren’t as guaranteed (i.e. in a bigger market)? That’s what an athlete may now have to weigh.
Out of all the schools in our region, I’m most interested to see the impact of NIL at WSU. It’s going to be fascinating.
Now to Gonzaga, which is in a more win-win position that WSU. Obviously, the Bulldogs have now become one of the blue bloods in college basketball. They have a wide reach and a fair amount of money. I could easily see players getting promotional deals at GU on both the local and national level. Gonzaga simply has the best of both worlds: a national presence while being located in a small market.
However, Gonzaga just doesn’t have the money or reach of the Kentucky’s and Duke’s of college basketball. Those schools just simply have more money and more high-level boosters. GU comes out on top in most cases though.
Gonzaga is also in a unique position due to their team’s international makeup. Can you imagine how much money Rui Hachimura could’ve made if he could’ve profited off of his NIL in college? As someone who witnessed the Japanese media dwarf the American media in Spokane multiple times last year, I can tell you Rui wouldn’t have wanted for much his junior year.
To sum it up, I think Gonzaga is going to be OK with this ruling, especially because of the imprint they have made in international recruiting. They still are at a bit of a disadvantage compared to other longer established programs, but it's not a large gap. Like WSU, they also could have an advantage since their school is in a smaller market.
FCS LEVEL SCHOOLS
The Eastern’s and the Idaho’s of the world won't be impacted much by this simply because their reach just isn’t as big as compared to the other schools. To be frank, this NIL announcement on Wednesday doesn’t affect 95 percent of collegiate athletes. Eastern and Idaho’s athletes for the most part fall into that category.
We’ve got another year and some change until this goes into affect. The only thing I know about this whole process is it’s not going to be boring.