Though the NCAA took a step forward Wednesday with its decision to allow college athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness (NIL), Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford says it is not a simple step.
Swofford explained on The Drive with Josh Graham Wednesday afternoon that the NCAA’s The Board of Governors’ move for rule changes that will allow student-athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements, is a complex one.
“I think it is fundamentally the right move, at this given point in time, as we modernize college athletics and try to put our student athletes in a place where they can be successful across the board and in their various endeavors,” Swofford said to the WSJS Sports host. “So, I do think it is the right move.
“I also think, right on top of that, is that it is a very complex issue in the parameters that will need to go around this. It is going to be a challenge to manage it for our campuses and for college athletics because it creates situations that could be of a negative nature from a recruiting standpoint and from an agent involvement standpoint. So, it is not a simple step forward, it is a complex one, but I think it is the right one.”
The board’s recommendations will move to the rules-making structure in each of the NCAA’s three divisions for further consideration. The divisions are expected to adopt new name, image and likeness rules by January to take effect at the start of the 2021-22 academic year.
Any changes adopted by the divisions must be in concert with the following principles and guidelines:
- Ensuring student-athletes are treated similarly to nonathlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
- Maintaining the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
- Ensuring rules are transparent, focused and enforceable, and facilitating fair and balanced competition.
- Making clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
- Making clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.
- Reaffirming that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
- Enhancing principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
- Protecting the recruiting environment and prohibiting inducements to select, remain at or transfer to a specific institution.
One of compliance and one of enforcement is the biggest concern for Swofford, as it pertains to the ACC.
“Any time it is a significant change to the collegiate model of intercollegiate athletics in our country and any time you have a change of this significance and in this breath, it makes people a little nervous, I think. That is human nature,” Swofford said. “I am confident, the enterprise, sort of speak, will find the right parameters and will be able to manage it. But there are certainly some risks on that side of it.
“But, as I said, I do think it is the right thing to be doing at this given point in time in college athletics to benefit student athletes.”
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