NIL laws add new variable to recruitment decisions

As another signing period for university recruits approaches, the first batch of prospects in the NIL era has a new variable to consider when deciding where to go to school: their opportunities to make money.

All NCAA athletes can now make money selling the rights to their names, pictures and similarities, but not all athletes play by the same set of rules. The restrictions and opportunities for athletes facing these new offerings vary depending on the state in which their school is located. There are 28 states with some sort of NIL law on the books. Which of them opens the most doors for athletes, and which have the most potential to limit future opportunities?

According to new rankings from the National Collegiate Players’ Association, New Mexico has the top set of legal protections for college athletes who want to make money while in school. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Southeastern Conference did not fare well. Eight of the 10 states with the worst ratings are in SEC footprints. The laws of Alabama and Mississippi (along with Illinois) were tied to last place on the list.

The NCAA changed its rules in July to allow college athletes to make money. In the months leading up to this date – before it was clear what possible changes the NCAA would make – state legislators ran to enact bills that would ensure their schools were not left behind. While most of the principles are similar, each state has its own wrinkles that were negotiated on the bill’s path to becoming a law. New Mexico, for example, is the only state that allows athletes to accept food, housing, and medical bills without having to do anything in exchange for them. Many states have different rules about what types of products athletes can approve, when and where they may approve them, who can pay them (booster restrictions), and how a school must prepare their athletes for the new rules.

The NCPA identified 21 significant differences in the restrictions and protections created by these laws, giving each of them a numerical score based on the language they deemed most useful for athletes to create “NCPA Official NIL Ratings”. NCPA founder Ramogi Huma said college prospects should prioritize a good fit over anything else when choosing a school, but those who could stand in line to make money while in college would be wise to weigh the differences in state law.

“These factors are going to be significant,” Huma said. “These factors can literally determine how much a recruit ends up earning as a college athlete and even the risk.”

So far, these NIL differences have not caused any major upheavals among the usual recruitment power plants. When early signing days come to basketball programs in less than three weeks, Duke and Kentucky are expected to have the top two recruiting classes despite being in states with laws placed in the bottom half of NCPA’s list. All 10 teams currently at the top of ESPN’s football recruitment rankings signed a Top 25 class last year before the NIL rules were established.

Although the various laws may not currently create major shifts or obvious benefits in recruitment (as many feared in the course of NIL rule changes), they could present unique positive and negative sides to individual athletes. Illinois, Mississippi and Texas – for example, are among the few states where an athlete could be penalized for signing approval agreements in the time between signing a scholarship agreement and the time of enrollment. Huma says these differences are worth considering.

The NCAA had hoped to eliminate these differences by creating a more prescriptive nationwide set of rules with the help of Congress. A federal law may still be under drafting, but it is not clear when it will come, if it ever comes. Disagreements between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill over how broad the law should be have brought progress to a halt.

“A federal standard is needed to create a level playing field, but every action Congress takes must deliver for the people who have always had the greatest impact on college sports athletes,” the rep said. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), A former Georgetown volleyball player who helped lead a recent hearing on the subject. “It means guaranteeing them the maximum freedom that can be compensated for the use of their name, image and equality in the way they choose.”

Without any forthcoming national laws reaching even the playing field, it is possible that states may start pushing to revise their legislation to ensure that it does not hold back their schools in recruitment races. Lawmakers drafting bills in Alabama, Mississippi and Illinois did not respond to questions about whether they reconsidered some of the details in their language. In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper this summer an executive ranking 17th out of 28 schools on NCPA’s NIL ratings. A spokeswoman from his office said this week that they were looking into whether there is a need for changes in their law.

“We continue to monitor developments in this area and are committed to ensuring that North Carolina remains a good place to be educated and play sports,” she said.

There are also 22 remaining states without any NIL legislation. The NCAA has advised schools in these states to make their own policies for how athletes can make money. In some cases, it has created opportunities for these schools to provide fewer restrictions for their athletes. For example, BYU helped facilitate an agreement for all of its football players to receive money from a protein bar company. That kind of involvement on the part of the school would be illegal in several of the states with NIL laws.

Huma said the lack of a law could also be dangerous for athletes. The NCPA, which advised legislators in at least a dozen states when considering legislation, recommends that all states pass laws so that athletes’ rights are guaranteed.

Several of these states have considered legislation in the past year but have not yet adopted anything. Many of these lawmakers decided to wait to see what was needed after the NCAA changed its rules or dropped the topic down on their priority list, while expecting Congress to enact a federal law. Nate Boulton, a state senator in Iowa who was among those pushing for NIL legislation in his state last spring, said he still follows the landscape closely but is not in a hurry to pass the law.

“My approach is a bit of waiting and seeing,” he said. “There are likely to be situations that give us concerns and we want to make sure our athletes are protected.”

Athletes in these states without laws also continue to ask their representative to codify the changes despite the fact that they have had great success making money with the new rules so far. Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs said he had held talks with state Gov. and Senator Maria Cantwell to encourage action at the state and federal levels.

Hobbs said he has been able to use the new rules to promote his freelance graphic design work, sell clothes and become a co-founder of a brewery in Spokane, which is set to open soon after the football season ends. He said all athletes should make sure they understand the nuances of what is allowed based on where they are going to school.

“I think it’s super important to have a state law,” Hobbs said. “A lot of people think it’s all – inclusive, but there are some states that have laws that do not address all the benefits that are needed. The things that you think are small can end up being a big difference in that. long runs. “

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