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The Ever-Evolving World of the NCAA: The Future of NIL

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In what seems like a lifetime ago, the age of the NIL (name, image and likeness) was introduced to the NCAA and college sports. What followed was an instance of the floodgates opening with student athletes across the landscape of college sports signing endorsement deals to capitalize on their NIL.

While players continued to earn, the NCAA had a new hill to climb as they began working through an antitrust lawsuit brought by the government. The result is potential revenue sharing with universities in addition to the current NIL landscape. Here is what is known in the evolving world of the NCAA with the NIL and beyond.

In developments on Tuesday, the next evolution of the college athlete and the compensation they can earn and are entitled to is growing closer and closer. As settlement negotiations can be slow and tedious, the process has begun picking up steam and while far from over, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

What the resulting settlement will mean for not just college football, but the college sports we all know and love is anyone's guess, but the one sure thing is that college sports are getting ready to evolve again.

House v. NCAA

With what we know, the settlement in the House v. NCAA will involve two parts. The first is the compensation owed to college athletes for universities using their name, image and likeness in broadcasts.

This will be in the form of back pay of at least $1 billion owed to athletes for NIL use between 2017 and 2020. Whatever the amount, it will understandably be paid over time. The second part is going to be more impactful. There have been discussions specifically involving power conferences and their schools to enact a revenue-sharing model with student-athletes.

Under the proposals being considered, schools would not only directly share revenue with the athlete, but they would also have the ability to buy exclusive NIL rights of the athletes at the school. The proposal would share $15-20 million per school and set a spending limit that would echo the salary cap structure of professional teams. The figure would be determined from an average of the athletic department revenues (ticket sales, sponsorships, merchandise, etc.) and would be the same for all schools.

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What Does This Mean for the Future of College Sports?

With the settlement, the NCAA would temporarily protect itself and power leagues from further litigation. The settlement would also include active cases against the NCAA and power leagues. It would also help avoid a potentially steeper price tag for all. There are concerns about the potential settlement as well. First, the temporary nature of any coverage against future litigation is a concern. There is also a concern that it would not end the proverbial arms race where the rich seemingly get richer. While schools could get exclusive NIL rights to their athletes there is debate as to how many athletes would agree to the exclusivity.

Under the proposed revenue-sharing model, teams in the Power Five conferences would be looking at another $15-20 million in additional revenue per school. Although schools in the Power Four will see an increase in their respective budgets, those teams in the Group of 5—and to an extent the FCS—could provide those schools with opportunities that might not normally be available to them otherwise. The proposal would not lessen the gap between the top and bottom schools. It would simply move the goalposts. The other issue is that there is no clear plan for which sports and athletes get the funds.

While still needing work to be done, and more arguments to be had between the sides, a final agreement on the settlement could be made as early as the end of May. We at will provide any updates as soon as they become available.

Capitalizing on NIL

This agreement could further drive the NCAA to have its member institutions pay athletes directly resulting in an end to the student-athlete. Does the NCAA move to treat college football and basketball as a separate entity in some kind of modified semi-professional model?

Revenue-generating sports are going to continue to do so for universities, however, this could be a moment for the NCAA as a whole to capitalize on the recent success of the women's basketball season and use the extra funds to elevate other sports across the college landscape.


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