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IU Student-Athletes Now Eligible To Make Money Off Name, Image And Likeness

A photo on the field of Memorial Stadium.

(Joey Mendolia, WFIU/WTIU News)

NCAA officials will now allow college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL), which means IU players can use their personal brands to make money. 

The rule change essentially ends amateurism in collegiate athletics. Third-party entities such as companies, boosters and social media platforms can all compensate players.

IU athletics has been on the forefront of the NIL movement, especially after it formed a task force in 2020 that aimed at addressing and understanding the new rules and opportunities. Associate Athletics Director for Strategic Communications, Jeremy Gray, co-chaired that group. 

LISTEN: IU Athletics Prepares For Changes To Name, Image, Likeness Rules In College Sports

"Let’s say there’s a dinner special at a restaurant, you could get an athlete to do an Instagram post talking about how great the food is at the restaurant, and highlighting what the deals are on Tuesdays," said Gray. "Then you can pay the student athlete, but it's also an effective mode of advertising."

Gray said athletes may receive payments for a broad array of things like attending kids’ birthday parties, speaking at company banquets, and even playing video games with fans online.

"There’s also appearances. It could be appearances at a business, an autograph signing, that type of stuff in order to drive business into a storefront. And I think Bloomington’s uniquely well-positioned for that," said Gray. 

Star quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. is among the Hoosier athletes already taking advantage of the new rules through IU's digital NIL partner, OpenDorse

OpenDorse is a digital platform that helps athletes monetize and protect their personal brand by charging people money for different services.

Starting at $200, Penix can craft you a personal tweet, Facebook post or send you a special video message.

READ MORE: NCAA Approves Interim Policy For Athletes To Profit Off Their Name, Image And Likeness

Gray said the company also creates interesting videos and photos in real-time for athletes to use on social media. For example, if a player on the basketball team hits a buzzer-beater to win a big game, the content will be ready for distribution as soon as the game ends.

"Before they walk off the court, they already have the celebration photo in their phone. They can then Tweet it out, and if it goes viral, that builds their platform, making them more attractive to endorsers," said Gray

But it’s important to remember the NCAA still does not allow players to earn a salary for playing a sport. NCAA President Mark Emmert explained some of the rules in the organization's NIL social series

"Athletes are not to receive direct payments from the universities. Schools cannot pay someone directly. They still cannot pay them for their performance on the field, even the third-party cannot do that. But they can engage in these third-party arrangements," said Emmert. 

Emmert said the rules are a little different across the country depending on where you live. Some states have already passed their own NIL laws, which is why the interim policy has been left vague.

Until Congress can pass unified guidelines for the whole country, which Emmert said could take place as soon as this fall, each school is responsible for organizing their own NIL policy that must be approved by the NCAA. 

"If you're in a state that doesn't have a state law, then what we're saying is, you can do whatever you want in this space, as long as it's not a pay-for-play, as long as it's not money coming from the school, and as long as it's not an inducement to remain at any one individual school," said Emmert. 

Indiana state lawmakers have not passed any legislation on the issue.

"It’s experimental and the only way that it’s experimental is that later on they’re going to be bring more clarity. This is not going away," said Gray. "This is going to be the new normal."

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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