While the NCAA needlessly procrastinated for years over the name, image and likeness rights of its athletes – a calculation that came against its will, in a hurry, Thursday – North Carolina was not better.
This is among states with no legal guidance when the first state laws go into effect on July 1. The NCAA, in response to laws passed elsewhere, should raise its hand and let schools in those 28 states set their own rules. to deal with this new NIL world where varsity athletes will be allowed to sign sponsorship deals, turn massive social media followings into advertising revenue, and run summer camps, among other basic rights that normal students are allowed to profit.
Which means North Carolina may have fallen so far behind on this point that they’re actually ahead of the curve.
Time is a flat circle.
Thanks to the icy inaction and galactic incompetence of the NCAA, what was shaping up to be a recruiting disadvantage for North Carolina schools could turn out to be a huge advantage. Schools here will be free to set NIL rules without any of the onerous restrictions other states have imposed, such as Georgia’s provision that requires athletes to share NIL income with others. (The schools there said they would not enforce this provision.)
It’s really not that hard for schools to develop their own policies: like sports economist Andy Schwarz tweeted, just copy-paste California or New Mexico laws, which athlete advocates consider fairer. (Schwarz helped draft the California bill.) Done and done. Send a check to the man.
It should never have come to this, of course. The NCAA hesitated and procrastinated, caused a stir by agreeing in principle to liberalize NIL rights last year, and then continued to procrastinate and procrastinate. As the Supreme Court’s ruling against the NCAA in the Alston case earlier this month raised pointed questions about the NCAA’s ability to restrict any type of athlete income in light of future antitrust lawsuits, it was too late to do anything substantial anyway.
The NCAA has spent most of its energy asking Congress for help to come away empty-handed after a bipartisan shrug. Congress could eventually pass federal NIL legislation, but that won’t be on the NCAA’s timeline, and it almost certainly won’t come with the antitrust exemption that the NCAA desperately wanted. The $ 301,553 ACC spent on NIL lobbying in 2020 was money well spent.
So, with half a dozen state laws slated to come into force on July 1 – Oregon became the seventh Tuesday – ACC commissioner Jim Phillips was one of many conference commissioners from power that came up with the duct tape solution that the NCAA is likely to employ: Schools and athletes will follow the laws of their states, with minimal guidance from the NCAA. No state law? You are alone.
The latter group includes North Carolina, oddly enough. Two NIL bills that would have brought North Carolina into line with other ACC states like Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have never even been shouted in the legislature. Both were primarily sponsored by Senator Wiley Nickel, a Wake County Democrat, in a Republican-controlled Senate, with predictable results.
It may not be a political coincidence: While South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner testified in support of NIL legislation in that state, Bubba Cunningham of North Carolina and Kevin White of Duke were among the members. of those who were trying to slow down the passage of NCAA rules allowing the NIL. (This did not prevent UNC from partnering with NIL INFLCR consultant on a NIL tracking platform for his athletes.)
Governor Roy Cooper did not follow the lead of his counterparts in Kentucky and Ohio in doing so by executive order, even though it is even legal under state law, which leaves Carolina of the North without any kind of legal directive on the books.
“Our office is examining the issue and the potential for action under North Carolina law in the absence of General Assembly action,” a spokesperson for the governor wrote in an email.
All of this inaction has raised concerns about whether it could put North Carolina colleges at a recruiting disadvantage, only for the NCAA’s desperate race to overcome its own indecision to leave the state in what could end up being the most advantageous position.
In the wild and rugged west of NIL that begins Thursday, nowhere will be more savage than states without laws and decrees. As the schools here scramble to develop their own policies on short notice, they are free to do so without any restrictions.
If they’re smart, they’ll make it as beneficial as possible to their own athletes, but that’s a big if.
North Carolina has fallen so far it found itself in front, like overtaken traffic.