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NAIA Proposal Would Allow for Athlete Compensation

by Jason Scott

While the subject of name, image and likeness legislation percolates at the NCAA level, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is moving forward with an amendment to its bylaws that would pave the way for that association’s student-athletes to earn money for the use of their name, image and likeness.

According to the law firm Kennyhertz Perry, the NAIA proposal was released earlier this month, and will be voted on by members on April 1. The proposed amendments mimic the state of California’s so-called Fair Pay to Play Act, which was signed in Sept. 2019 and is set to go into effect in 2023. That law will allow California student-athletes to earn money from the use of their name, image or likeness and prohibit the NCAA from punishing them.

Related: California Gov. Signs Landmark ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Bill

However, Kennyhertz Perry suggests that the NAIA proposal goes further — by allowing NAIA athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) with virtually no restrictions. The proposal would remove current restrictions that prohibit use of the athlete’s NIL in association with collegiate athletics or in reference to his or her institution. If approved, an NAIA student-athlete could hypothetically appear in uniform on a television commercial. 

The NAIA proposal does require student-athletes to report any agreement for the use of their NIL to the athletic director of their institution “when such promotion includes reference to his or her status as a student-athlete or institution,” according to Kennyhertz Perry.

In addition to allowing student-athletes to profit from the use of their NIL, the bylaw amendment would allow for student-athletes to be compensated for “participating in radio or television programs for the purpose of promoting an amateur athletic event.”

NCAA proposals on name, image and likeness legislation are likely to include restrictions on which third parties may compensate a student-athlete — potentially blocking a student-athlete from sponsoring a product or service offered by a competitor to an existing athletic department sponsor. The NAIA proposal, however, contains no such restriction.


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