Eleven months after the NCAA lifted most of its restrictions against athletes earning their fame, college sports leaders …
Eleven months after the NCAA lifted most restrictions against athletes earning their fame, college sports leaders are trying to send a warning to schools and boosters he believes have crossed the line: there are still rules here and they will be followed.
But after last year’s Supreme Court ruling against the NCAA on antitrust, is it still likely – or even possible, to crack down on so-called collective brokerage deals dealing with name, image and likeness?
“I didn’t think the NCAA would try at some point,” said Maddie Solomon, a sports lawyer and former Duke lacrosse player. “That is why many lawyers have given cautious advice on what is possible and what is not. Especially when it comes to teams and various NIL deals. “
On Monday, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved guidelines developed by a group of college sports administrators that clarify the types of NIL payouts and participation in the booster that should be considered as hiring violations.
“In particular, management identifies as a booster any third-party organization that promotes the athletics program, assists in recruitment, or assists in providing benefits to conscripts enrolled in student-athletes or members of their families,” the NCAA release said. “The definition may include ‘collective teams’ created to deal with the name, image and likeness of prospective student-athletes or enrolled student-athletes who may consider transitioning.”
The NCAA added a reminder: recruitment rules prevent accelerators from hiring or providing benefits to potential customers.
The instruction is valid immediately. NCAA law enforcement agencies have been instructed to look for possible violations that could have occurred before May 9, 2022, but “conduct only those actions that are clearly contrary to published interim policies, including the most serious violations of the rules of recruitment or payment for sports performances. ”
The NCAA has not changed its rules or created new ones.
“I don’t think they’re even necessarily clarifying the rules,” said attorney Darren Heitner, who helped draft Florida’s NIL law. “I understand that these are just some of the individuals who set up the working committee that decided that in almost 11 months we want to follow our rules.”
The rise in the number of teams funded by the incentive prompted the board in February to ask the DI Board to reconsider NIL NCAA’s interim policy. The concern of many in the College of Sports has been that payments from teams are made to high school recruits and college athletes in hopes of forcing them to transfer to a particular school.
“Some things are very similar to paying for a game,” Solomon said. “There are rules in the books in the NCAA around boosters. The fact that the NCAA is hesitant to put into action anything, in my opinion, has prompted many people around this issue to be a little more obvious. ”
Last year, the NCAA lifted its long-standing ban on athletes earning money from sponsorship deals and agreements. However, what remained in place were three pillars of the NCAA amateur model:
– Athletes could not be paid only for their sports;
– Compensation cannot be used to attract an athlete to a particular school;
– Financial arrangements must have some kind of quid pro quo agreement in which the athlete is paid for services rendered, such as posting on social media or appearing.
The NCAA has not banned boosters from participating in NIL activities. However, without detailed NCAA regulations and with various NIL laws at the state level across the country, both the school and the association have struggled to determine which actions are unacceptable.
Some state laws also prohibit boosters from collaborating with recruits, but there was little appetite for enforcing those laws.
If the NCAA starts targeting some teams, it could trigger a new round of lawsuits against the association.
Mitt Winter, a sports attorney in Kansas City, Missouri, said compliance with these NCAA rules is not a clear violation of antitrust law.
“So the question is, is the rule that is enforced under antitrust law reasonable?” Winter said. “And, as I’ve read everything, the rule they’ll follow is a rule that says boosters and other third parties, such as teams, can’t pay athletes in exchange for commitment to school.”
Heitner advises several teams and businesses that have struck NIL deals with college athletes. He said from the beginning he stressed to clients to wait until the athletes are at the school of their choice before participating.
“I don’t think it’s a collective issue,” he added. “I think it’s just an NCAA question: ‘Hey, we’ve always held the position that boosters can’t influence decision-making by athletes, especially high school athletes who haven’t yet gone to university.’
Gabe Feldman, director of sports law at Tulane, said the NCAA would be best forward-looking with its NIL implementation.
“I think it’s probably a safer and probably a fairer approach,” Feldman said. “Reversing 20/20, but what would be an even better approach is to come up with clear rules sooner and start following them so that we don’t end up in a situation where it would be unfair to start following the rules.”
College and NCAA sports conferences have been frequent targets for lawsuits, and a Supreme Court ruling last June left the door open for even more.
Feldman said the NCAA could open up to greater antitrust without following existing rules. But both antitrust lawsuits and NCAA law enforcement are known to be slow.
“It would be able to be like a turtle and a turtle,” Feldman said. “Neither one nor the other will be done quickly, but in the interim there is a great risk.”
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