Nearly every state has introduced some sort of legislation that legalizes college athletes to earn compensation from the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL). In fact, many states have already passed and signed those bills into law. They are known as NIL laws.

Profiting off name, image and likeness would allow student-athletes to earn endorsement deals on anything from apparel to car dealerships to local pizza shops, all while maintaining their eligibility as a member of a collegiate team.

Proponents believe that students have an inherent right to their own name, image and likeness. Not every student-athlete is on a scholarship. No other students at the university have these restrictions.

There are going to be unintended consequences to every situation, but proponents don’t think that anybody should let those issues stand in the way of trying to do the right thing by the athletes. Times have changed. Universities are also dealing with the effects of transfer portals and graduate transfers on team rosters.

Currently, approximately 16 states have legalized name, image and likeness ownership for student-athletes in the United States. Five of those have NIL laws that go into effect in July. Others have NIL laws under consideration for the near future. Failure to act might put some prominent athletic programs under a recruiting disadvantage.

There have been concerns about allowing students to earn compensation from NIL, with some saying it may lead to lessened team chemistry due to star players earning much larger incentives than members of the roster deeper on the chart. 

Shouldn’t there be nationwide legislation on NIL going through the U.S. Congress? Yes, but ConĀ­gress is bogged down with more important issues that are taking precedence over it. 

Supporters of NIL laws believe the changes will help players across all sports and across all levels of stardom, thanks to endorsements from a variety of different types of businesses and brands. Wealthy benefactors just want to support hard-working athletes at their alma mater.

Proponents argue that benefits won’t be limited to football players. They see participants in various women’s teams, baseball and softball, the hockey teams, the track and field teams, volleyball teams and other sports benefiting. I’d expect power-conference schools to poach star players from other schools, but that happens now.

Supporters of the NIL laws say most student-athletes have been working their entire lives to be able to compete, whether it’s at the junior high level, high school level or college level. Most kids don’t have a gigantic NFL or major league payday coming down the line and therefore will never have the opportunity to recoup the money invested in their training.

Legal experts and college officials have worked hard to hammer out the details of these NIL laws. Student-athletes will have to disclose any proposed contract prior to entering any endorsement deal. There will be penalties and restrictions. Any endorsement cannot conflict with any pre-existing university sponsorship deal.

Many star college athletes might see their promising careers end via injury, meaning all the money they could have made as an athlete would have had to come during their college playing days, not as a pro.

Won’t the bad actors hanging around the college athletes be a constant problem as they look to entice the best athletes with generous endorsements? Won’t the best athletes be subject to tampering? It will be up to the NCAA and the universities to police their athletes.

How will coaches deal with adverse effects on team chemistry? Boxer Marvin Hagler once observed: Many athletes are required to get up very early for workouts and practice sessions and that will be more difficult when pampered players are sleeping in silk pajamas.

College students often show great creativity and come up with great marketing ideas. They embrace social media, with TikTok and Instagram, all these short-form media formats. They will create their own highlight reels, audition reels and they will figure out ways to monetize those views which will translate into income opportunities.