PRESS RELEASE – FEBRUARY 26, 2020
For immediate release
For more information:
Dr. B. David Ridpath, Ed.D.
The Drake Group
The Drake Group Calls for ‘Honest Broker’ to Oversee College Athlete NIL Deals
NEW HAVEN, CT. –
Today, The Drake Group issued a revised position statement on college athletes’ rights to independently commercially exploit their own names, images and likenesses (NILs). Drake president B. David Ridpath stated, “Legislators in 26 states have joined California in filing or announcing their intent to file legislation rejecting the amateur status rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regarding outside employment of college athletes. We are grateful to the members of Congress who have announced their intent to develop federal legislation to prevent chaos because of the different provisions among all the state bills. The Drake Group is urging Congress to consider appointing an independent NIL Commission to set standards and resolve the inevitable conflicts that are bound to occur between institutional sponsorship and athlete employment and NIL licensing agreements with third parties. We believe the NCAA cannot be an ‘honest broker’ given their past and current adherence to antiquated amateur status rules and the pressure to protect the commercial interests of their member institutions. Further, we propose policies which fairly balance higher education institutions’ use of college athlete NILs to promote and televise their participation in their extracurricular athletics program with the rights of college athletes to be employed outside the institution and license the use of their NILs to outside third parties.”
This position paper proposes new rules that should and could govern previously impermissible outside employment and NIL licensing. With respect to NILs, we propose that an independent NIL Commission be responsible for setting standards and for overseeing a national NIL Eligibility Center responsible for implementing the standards. We recommend that all college-athlete-outside-employment and NIL licensing agreements be reported to the athlete’s institution and to the national NIL Eligibility Center. We also recommend that athletes be permitted to employ agents to negotiate arrangements for employment and licensing. More particularly, all non-de minimis agreements would be registered with the NIL Eligibility Center and the athletes’ respective institutions, and would be consistent with the standards set by the independent NIL Commission. Moreover, the institution or its representatives of athletics interests would not be permitted to directly or indirectly initiate such arrangements.
Dr. Ridpath continued, “We recognize that prohibiting the institution, sponsors, alumni, and boosters from initiating such arrangements represents a compliance challenge. However, we believe that the systems proposed — reporting requirements coupled with the requirement for compensation commensurate with going market rates and other standards — are sufficient controls as contrasted to current NCAA prohibitions on athlete employment. These prohibitions precipitate under-the-table transactions that are rules’ violations. Further, we believe that reporting requirements would reveal the improper practices of individual alumni or boosters. Ultimately, rules’ violations are always possible, but we believe the fears of a negative impact on college sports that have been expressed by athletic leaders to date are overblown and do not justify the current one-sided revenue advantages of the institution.”
Media and other queries may be directed to Drake expert Andrew Zimbalist, Ph.D.
Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College