Many of you may have heard about the recent Supreme Court Ruling which set in motion expanded benefits to NCAA student-athletes. This ruling is in addition to name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation that we have discussed before.
A recent Supreme Court decision was narrowly tailored around a case brought by a former West Virginia running back, Shawne Alston, and other players. Simply put, the ruling said that the NCAA cannot prevent student-athletes from receiving education-related benefits such as graduate school tuition, study abroad opportunities, computers, tutoring, internships, and achievement awards for their academic progress. It continues to pave the way for more lucrative opportunities for student-athletes.
The NCAA released a brief statement: “While today’s decision preserves the lower court ruling, it also reaffirms the NCAA’s authority to adopt reasonable rules and repeatedly notes that the NCAA remains free to articulate what are and are not truly educational benefits, consistent with the NCAA’s mission to support student-athletes.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert told ESPN, “even though the decision does not directly address Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), the NCAA remains committed to supporting NIL benefits for student-athletes. Additionally, we remain committed to working with Congress to chart a path forward, which is a point the Supreme Court expressly stated in its ruling.”
As it relates to the University of Denver, this is absolutely a win for both student-athletes and DU with a minimal cost to non-football, mid-major athletic departments with mostly non-revenue producing sports. Denver may actually benefit from this ruling with facilities and a metropolitan area that supports opportunities for internships, solid graduate offerings, and existing academic support which are already in place for the general student body.
The NIL issue is much less clear. DU has not received guidance from the NCAA but has been preparing for this over the past year. Once Denver receives final authorization to proceed, they will meet with student-athletes this summer or fall on their return to campus. This area of the new legislation is murky with potential conflicts between existing sponsors, DU and student-athletes who may wish to work with the same sponsors or, more complicated yet, work with competitors of existing sponsors. All of this will shake itself out over time. Since Denver’s sports menu excludes football, there are unlikely to be serious conflicts if and when athletes want to promote their brand or pursue academic or commercial opportunities.