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Student-Athletes Can Now Profit From Their Name, Image and Likeness

National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes, including those from the University of St. Thomas, can now profit off their name, image and likeness under a new interim policy passed July 2021, allowing them to receive financial endorsements and advertise their personal brand and reputation in the collegiate sports world.

This is the first time athletes have been allowed to profit off their NIL under the NCAA. Only twelve other states have passed this new policy as law: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. 

According to a June 30 NCAA press release, the new policy aims to help all members “avoid” pay-to-play and inappropriate incentives regarding the choice to attend a specific school, but it is not considered a permanent ruling.

NCAA President Mark Emmert wrote in the release that because of the varying state laws in the country, the organization will continue to work with Congress in order to develop and enact a clear solution on a national level.

” The current environment- both legal and legislative- prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve,” Emmert wrote.

Junior accounting major Juan Hood, the point guard for the University’s men’s basketball team, called the changes “long overdue.”

“It creates an image for yourself and a chance for other people to view you,” Hood said.

Other reactions among student athletes and coaches at UST were mixed.

Junior general business major Zack Golaszewski from UST’s men’s basketball team said he feels the new policy benefits higher-ranking divisions of the NCAA, such as the University of Texas and Texas A&M, which have bigger sports programs than UST.

UST is in Division Three, the lowest division that comprises smaller private schools such as Southwest University and Trinity University.

 The University’s men’s basketball coach Anthony Medina said the new policy has both benefits and disadvantages. 

 In one way, he says, it could help Division Three student-athletes learn advertising, marketing and branding of their personal image. 

However because UST’s sports program is so small, student-athletes approached for endorsements may not receive the same financial benefits as Division One athletes might.

“That doesn’t mean that our guys won’t financially benefit from this, just [that] the opportunities will be a lot more limited, and it would be for a lot less money than higher levels,” Medina said.

“This policy is put in place for kids who are probably going to be playing professionally, the kids that have brand recognition and have some type of following that would help the company.”

Although the new policy allows athletes to capitalize on their NIL,  it also prevents universities from using those athletes in their school advertising.

 As a result, Cory Mckendree, UST’s director of media relations and compliance, said the policy brings about two different outcomes.

“[The NIL policy] is really for all the athletes to have an even playing field, but I think the schools could make money with this and get on board,” Mckendree said.

Moreover, staff members of the University are not able to help students advertise their NIL,  according to UST Director of Athletics Todd Smith. 

“You can’t have staff members support these student-athletes because it will [potentially] get them deals that other people won’t get,” Smith said. 

Nonetheless, UST senior Noah Martinez, a member of UST’s men’s baseball team, believes the policy benefits even Division Three schools such as UST because companies can endorse individual athletes regardless of the school’s size or reputation.

Martinez is already benefiting from the new policy: he started representing the clothing line “Attitude Is Free” on July 1, 2021. 

“Say you have a really good following; even though you may go to a small school, they are saying you have a good following and I would like for you to represent our brand,” Martinez said.

“We’ve never been able to do this [before]…It’s based on image and likeness, so it’s not school-based, which is what I like about it.”

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