Thursday, May 26, 2022

College sports leadership continues push for NCAA brass to strictly enforce NIL guidelines

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College sports leaders are pushing for NCAA enforcement to crack down on recruiting violations surrounding NIL, according to Sports Illustrated. An NCAA working group that includes Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is working on NIL guidelines to clarify expectations heading forward. Those guidelines could be released as soon as next week. 

One of the major frustrations comes from the use of donor-led collectives playing a role in recruiting. NCAA bylaws ban boosters from being involved in the recruiting process, including having any contact with high school athletes about recruiting. The working group wants institutions that break this rule to face sanctions — punishments that could also be retroactive to those who have already violated the guidelines. 

“Just because we have NIL, it doesn’t eliminate the rules,” Colorado athletic director Rick George told Sports Illustrated. “Everybody is like, ‘It’s NIL!’ I am totally in favor of NIL done right. It’s really good. [Athletes] should be able to monetize their NIL, but a lot of what’s going on out there is not NIL.”

While the rules remain on the books, the NCAA has been hesitant to investigate any of the seemingly blatant offenses. The NCAA is still working on building enforcement staffing back up after layoffs during the pandemic. Additionally, the only guidelines the NCAA has released at this point are wildly open-ended, effectively giving states free reign to set their own NIL rules as long as they technically fit within NCAA rules. 

However, SI also notes that there’s hesitation from the NCAA that enforcing the rules could quickly lead to anti-trust lawsuits that expose the organization in the court system. The NCAA could be reluctant to get into another lengthy court battle, especially as an embarrassing loss in the NCAA v. Alston (2021) case ultimately set the NCAA down this path. 

Numerous programs have organized booster-run collectives over the last year to fund players with seemingly disallowed pay-for-play being reported publicly. Earlier this week, Biletnikoff-winning receiver Jordan Addison entered the transfer portal after reportedly being offered a seven-figure deal. Another reported deal between an unnamed 2023 quarterback recruit and a school collective could pay him as much as $8 million over the course of his college career. 

“I don’t think all of the collectives will decide ‘OK, we’re going to listen to the NCAA now,”” sports attorney Mit Winter told SI. “With as much time and money they’ve spent putting them together, they aren’t going to want to stop. It’s a really interesting situation.”

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