Athletes speak out on SCOTUS strike down of previous NCAA restriction
As college athletics across the country are becoming more and more popular, the rules of the National College Athletic Association are changing in order to keep up.
The ability for college athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness has been a conversation for many years. This idea became reality on June 21, when the Supreme Court came to a 9-0 decision in Alston v. NCAA that the NCAA’s restrictions on “education-related benefits” went against antitrust laws. Antitrust laws are meant to prevent monopolies and regulate free markets.
What does this mean for college athletes? Holt graduate and MSU cross country and track runner Alex Penski said that the benefits of name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals could impact his everyday life.
“While it is true that college athletes receive some perks, I believe that our names, images, and likenesses have been stripped from us unjustly, where these assets could give us some income to pay for housing or food,” Penski said. In a 2019 survey by College Pulse, 77% of students believe that college athletes should be able to make money from their NIL.
Athletes monetizing their NIL can make money from autographs, merchandise, and meet and greets. However, Penski said that changes in laws involving college athletes NIL are both likely and necessary.
“I believe these laws are a great start.” Penski said. “However, I believe that these laws should be viewed as an outline. They need to be adjusted overtime so student’s have more of an outline to follow when building relationships with companies,”
With the busy lifestyle that comes with being a college athlete, MSU soccer player Farai Mutatu said the ability to sign NIL deals will greatly benefit the student’s life.
“This law affects me personally because now I can find ways to make money while I’m in season. It’s hard for athletes to work any part time jobs or even internships so having this option is great.” Mutatu said. According to the NCAA, college athletics generated $18.9 billion in total revenue in 2019. A 2019 study by the NCAA revealed that 86% of student athletes live below the poverty line. At the time, these athletes were not able to make money from their NIL.
Holt senior and varsity football player Malachi Davis said the long awaited decision to allow NIL deals benefits the lives of college athletes.
“I think I think people have just been scared to do it. They knew the players. Soon as players got the opportunity to help their families out back home or make a better opportunity for themselves, they're gonna do it,” Davis said.
Davis said he understands why some people may be opposed to student athletes making money for their NIL because of their youth and the platform they are already given.
“I think they would just say we're still student athletes, they're not in the NFL yet. And I can see where they're coming from.” Davis said.
Although he understands, Davis said he does not agree with them.
“However, just how much money is generated from them is ridiculous, so for them to be able to only improve themselves and in their family's lives, I have no problem with that.” Davis said.
In 2014, former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston sued the NCAA for limiting athlete’s ability to make money. Alston was one of the first and most influential cases in allowing college athletes to benefit off their NIL. Penski said that the rule change took a while to come into place because there was not enough pressure on rule makers from the athletes in the past.
“Since these rules have been there for so long, the mode has been set; even if people didn’t like the rules, they went along with it anyway because they want to participate in their sport,” Penski said.
Most athletes agree that being able to make money off their own NIL is the right thing. However, Penski said that there is still a downside to the new NIL laws.
“I think that NIL deals both in college and in high school will unfortunately cause some athletes to emphasize money instead of athletics. There are examples already of athletes receiving crazy deals even without participating in a single minute of their sport in college, and I think that is dangerous.” Penski said.
Not all college athletes are playing solely for money. Davis said that his primary focus is his education and football.
“I'm not playing football to make money right now in college anyway. I'm doing it to get my education and make it to the NFL. So that's not my main priority. This is gonna come along with it.” Davis said.
With the Supreme Court decision less than six months old, only time will tell if the right decision was made. For now, athletes will continue to benefit from their recently unrestricted rights. Mutatu said being educated about this issue is very important when dealing with NIL laws.
Mutatu said, “This is new for everyone right now, but I think education in these areas will be very important for college athletes.”
PC: Grant Bachman