College athletes can now profit from NIL

by Grace Grabowski, Sports Reporter
graphic by Julie Wang

In July 2017, Donald De La Haye, a kicker for the University of Central Florida’s football team, appealed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He requested to monetize his YouTube channel, which he claimed would help him gain real-life experience for his marketing major. Under the pseudonym “Deestroying,” he posted vlogs about his life as a college athlete, earning a following of almost 50,000. 

The NCAA told De La Haye that he could not profit off of videos that referenced him being a student-athlete, which was most of his content. When asked to choose between his football scholarship and monetizing his channel, he chose to continue making YouTube videos.

Stories like De La Haye’s highlight the effects of some of the NCAA’s rules around athletes’ rights to make money. The NCAA allows collegiate athletes to practice for up to 20 hours a week on top of classes and schoolwork, making it hard for athletes to find time to make money. 

After several states introduced laws that banned the NCAA from preventing athletes from earning money from their name, image and likeness (NIL), on July 1 the NCAA changed their policy to permit athletes to profit off of their NIL. Now, athletes can profit from sponsorships and social media platforms: a start to compensating athletes for the time and effort they dedicate to their school’s athletics program. 

Regarding the rule changes, ‘19 South alumni and current student-athlete at Trinity College Cassie Lee said the extra money will help student-athletes.

“Overall, it’s good. My friends that have gotten endorsements are getting supplemental income, especially since when you play sports in college, you definitely wouldn’t have time [for] a job,” she said.

Now, college athletes no longer have to worry about whether or not they have time to get a job, and athletes with social media fame now have the opportunity to continue their online careers even after their athletic ones end.

The NCAA’s decision will also keep more athletes competing at the college level for longer, especially those who would go professional after a short college career to start making money. This will ultimately benefit both the college program and the athlete because colleges can keep their top players for longer and the athlete now has more time to develop in college and better prepare for success at the professional level. 

Unfortunately, the new NIL ruling does not give athletes full freedom in all cases. Some colleges and states still restrict how athletes can profit off their NIL. As a result, colleges’ NIL policy may affect their desirability to athletes. For instance, athletes who go to the University of Georgia aren’t allowed to use their school’s logo for endorsements while rival schools like the University of Tennessee allow athletes to use their logos. Top recruits may prefer to go to schools where they can use their school’s logo so they can wear their uniform or school merchandise in advertisements, helping them to book more jobs and make more money. 

Haley and Hanna Cavinder are twins who play basketball for Fresno State University who have already taken advantage of the new rules by signing a deal with Boost Mobile, a wireless carrier, thanks to their large following of nearly 3.5 million on TikTok and 68,000 on YouTube. 

Because professional women’s basketball offers smaller salaries than many other sports, the twins may have fewer opportunities to be financially secure through playing basketball professionally. But now, they can continue making money from social media, and the NCAA’s new rules will help them set up the foundation for their futures while they attend college.

Now that collegiate athletes can make money independently from their NIL, the question turns to whether colleges will start directly paying their athletes, though it seems unlikely that this will happen in the near future.

The NCAA made its first set of rules over 100 years ago, and they must continue to modernize their rules and give athletes more rights as the sports world progresses.