On April 29, 2020, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Board of Directors proposed a change in athlete name, image and likeness rules that would allow athletes to profit off their own image. We are also waiting to see how Alston v. NCAA plays out in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Though potential changes would open up many opportunities for student-athletes to profit off their own hard work, Texas State Athletics has not made a public announcement regarding whether or not they support the proposals. Neither have they reached out to each team's athletes about our opinions on the issue.
As an athlete at Texas State, I know having such a rule lifted would lift a lot of financial and daily stress. I would finally feel in control of my own image, not constantly worrying about whether or not social media posts or any extracurricular activities will result in consequences. I could partake in other business ventures and create my life beyond Texas State Athletics. Although I love being a Texas State athlete, I do not want to graduate just as an athlete. I am more than that.
The current rules for Division I athletes regarding the Right to Publicity consists of two major clauses:
- "In general, to maintain NCAA eligibility, Division I student-athletes may not promote or endorse a commercial product or service, even if they are not paid to participate in the activity."
- “Athletes may use their image to continue participating in non-athletically related promotional activities if they were initiated before college enrollment.”
The new set of rules — “expected” to be adopted by the 2021-2022 school year — would allow athletes to profit off third-party endorsements, “both related to and separate from athletics.” This enables athletes to create a steady income by pursuing business and profiting off social media. Modes of compensation through the Right of Publicity not allowed before would open to all Texas State athletes.
Texas State makes about $5 million a year through athletics, according to Fiscal Year 21 estimates, and the NCAA makes even more. However, these millions upon millions funneling into this enterprise never touches the hands of the young adults who are the backbone of this industry.
We are faceless. We forfeited our right to identity to play for this great university and are still constantly blindsided and forgotten about. Whatever the NCAA decides or does not decide affects us the most. Texas State Athletics, from the administration to staff members, should be standing on the frontline, speaking up for its athletes.
College athletes do get scholarships and other resources that regular students do not always have access to, but they are not enough. When in the face of economic deficiencies, such car payments, rent and food, athletes are pretty hopeless. The stipends we receive do not cover the full amount of the responsibilities we have.
We are not able to get a job as some other Texas State students do when they run into financial troubles. With 20-40 hour practice weeks and being full-time students, we are pretty limited in our time.
Opening the door for us athletes to use our image gives us a professional presence needed for success. We can use something we dedicate so much time, energy and passion to, to make a profit. These potential NCAA changes are pertinent for us athletes to continue doing what we love and get the references and experience we need for post-graduation.
Texas State needs to actively participate in the fight for athletes' rights. These new rules will play a pivotal part in creating a better environment for us all.
- Lindsey Salisbury is an English sophomore
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