NCAA releases new NIL guidelines regarding boosters

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors on Monday sent member schools guidelines to govern name, image and likeness (NIL) rights.

NIL has become the primary avenue college athletes have been able to explore to generate revenue for themselves since that practice became legal from an NCAA perspective last summer.

The new guidelines, which arrive 10 months after the NCAA lost its Supreme Court case pertaining to student revenue, dictate that boosters should not have contact with prospective college athletes nor their family or other representatives, a clear attempt to limit incentivizing athletes to sign with schools.

Per the official documentation, “NCAA rules preclude boosters from engaging in recruiting activities, including recruiting conversations, on behalf of a school. Further, NCAA recruiting rules preclude boosters from providing benefits to PSAs and preclude institutional staff members from being involved, directly or indirectly, with the provision of benefits to a PSA (prospect student athlete).

“Recruiting conversations between an individual or entity that has triggered booster status and a PSA are not permissible.

“NIL agreements must be based on an independent, case-by-case analysis of the value that each athlete brings to an NIL agreement as opposed to providing compensation or incentives for enrollment decisions, athletic performance, achievement or membership on a team.”

The NCAA’s guidance, therefore, arrives with the suggestion that NIL payments to entice recruits has never been acceptable, not even in light of the rules changes last summer, and could result in sanctions retroactively.

“While the NCAA may pursue the most outrageous violations that were clearly contrary to the interim policy adopted last summer, our focus is on the future,” board chair and University of Georgia president Jere Morehead told ESPN.

That statement provides some of the sharpest teeth the NCAA has yet displayed throughout this process, though the risk of antitrust lawsuits levied by boosters remains a deterrent against the NCAA providing a heavy hand in enforcement.

NCAA sanctions against violating schools are more likely to focus on institutional punishment rather than player eligibility, per reporting from Sports Illustrated, though it remains unclear what that might entail.