Name, Image, Likeness Era underway in NCAA: Local University, Student-Athletes react to NIL policy update

Georgia Southern

STATESBORO, Ga. (WSAV) — It’s a new day for the NCAA.

As of July 1st, the NCAA updated their NIL policy allowing student-athletes the ability to profit off of their name, image and likeness.

“It opens up a lot of doors, not just for me but for a lot of athletes out here who can do more for their platform than football if that makes sense,” Sam Kenerson said, Quarterback at Georgia Southern University. “It’s a way that we can create our platform, more like build it. Our own brand even if we wanted to. So it’s a very good thing.”

Prior to the policy’s update, student-athletes couldn’t accept a free meal or even a t-shirt. Now, student-athletes have the ability to receive individual sponsorships, perform in commercials, and even profit off of their social media accounts. Anything having to do with their name, image or likeness, they can now profit from.

“We’ve known the name image likeness discussion is coming down the pipe, and so we’ve been talking about it now for almost a year,” Jared Benko said, Athletic Director at Georgia Southern University. “Really for us right now, our role is really to be there to help educate. There’s clear delineation as far as what we can and can’t do, but really for us it’s been trying to make sure that the student-athletes are educated of what all is out there and obviously what it takes for them to continue to take advantage of the name image and likeness, cause really for us we want to make sure that our student-athletes have all the tools needed to benefit to take advantage of the legislation.”

According to Benko, Georgia Southern began educating their student-athletes on the matter using a program called APEX.

“This past year we started an APEX program which truly is holistically developed to make sure our student-athletes not only are taking advantage of opportunities here at Georgia Southern, but also post graduation. So, we’ve already been having the financial literacy piece. A lot of the things that are core components of holistically developing our young men and women have already been their core tenants of our apex program,” explained Benko.

Benko says that discussions about taxation, financial literacy and personal branding have also taken place to ensure that their student-athletes can best operate and take advantage of the NCAA’s updated NIL policy.

The social media part of the equation is what makes this the most interesting and most inclusive. Not only will this change the day-to-day lives of student-athletes in revenue sports (sports that their University makes a profit off of), this will affect every student-athlete across all sporting platforms in the NCAA.

“It’s really easy to think of the Trevor Lawrence’s of the world and those that will be impacted, and listen, the top quarterbacks for some of the top schools in the country will I’m sure have their opportunities, but we have some student-athletes that have a lot of followers. Whether it be on social media platforms like TikTok, Twitter, whatever, they’re going to have some opportunities I’d imagine to explore their name, image and likeness, and hopefully, that’s an opportunity they can explore and take advantage of.”

On Tuesday, it was announced that the University of Miami’s football team will receive a $540,000 sponsorship deal from American Top Team, a South Florida-based mixed martial arts gym. That equals out to $6,000 per year for all 90 players on scholarship. An interesting starting point just over a week into the new era of the NCAA.

Though this may soon turn into the new norm across the college sports world, it’s still to be seen how this will affect recruiting as well as other fundamental standpoints of collegiate athletics.

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