HUNTINGTON — There have been many takes on the NCAA’s name-image-likeness debate as it has taken shape over the last few years.
On Friday, the Power 5 schools put together a letter to Congress asking for a framework for name-image-likeness (NIL) regulations, even ahead of the NCAA putting together its own version.
“As the leaders of the A5 conferences, we believe strongly that Congress should enact the framework for a clear national policy on NIL as soon as possible and not wait for the NCAA process to conclude before moving forward with a national legislative plan,” the leaders wrote. “We intend to work with the NCAA to help shape those rules, but the Congressional process should move forward in the meantime.
“In the absence of federal NIL legislation, we expect most, if not all, states to pass their own disparate NIL laws in early 2021, to take effect in the summer of 2021, if not sooner. So, time is of the essence.”
The letter from the Power 5 leaders comes after months of discussion regarding the topic prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down sports.
In October, the NCAA “voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”
In April, the Board of Governors furthered their efforts for student-athletes to receive compensation from third-party endorsement within and outside of athletics while also opening the door for those athletes to monetize social media, personal business and personal appearances, which was not allowed before.
In that April announcement, the NCAA discussed challenges to rules changes posed by outside legal and legislative factors that could undermine the organization and said they would engage Congress to take steps to protect the organization’s well-being.
Friday’s letter, which comes after the Power 5 conferences have spent much of 2020 lobbying Congress on the matter, is a defined statement calling for federal guidelines in regards to NIL prior to state laws taking place next year, which could present recruiting advantages for universities within some states, based on their NIL laws.
While COVID-19 is still the hottest issue in collegiate sports, the NIL debate is quickly gaining more steam and will continue to as 2020 rolls on.
Marshall men’s basketball head coach Dan D’Antoni, who also spent many years as an assistant in the NBA, where players profit from their brand, said that no matter what the decision is, he will stick to one principle that he has adhered to for years.
“The way I coach and the premise I teach from is that what’s best for the players will be good for the team and good for Marshall,” D’Antoni said. “When they bring this in, if they can benefit from it, I’m for it. There may be some tweaks to it because it’s new, but if they can help themselves financially or promotionally, then I’m all for it.
“I trust my players that they are mature, and we try to recruit players like that. We try to get kids that make good decisions, and I have faith they will do that.”
In looking at Marshall’s men’s basketball program, one player — Taevion Kinsey — is an example of someone who could benefit greatly if such rules are passed. Kinsey’s jumping ability and high-flying dunks are a social media sensation that he could potentially monetize.
As D’Antoni pointed to in his outlook on the matter, he feels Kinsey’s popularity with social media brings a spotlight to Marshall as well.
“He’s got a great chance with this,” D’Antoni said. “His personality is marketable, his flow is poetic, he’s got a lot of good things and he keeps developing, then good things will happen around him.”
D’Antoni joked that he’s not in “the virtual world,” but Kinsey and many players are.
One thing D’Antoni did say is that Marshall’s method of play is also marketable because it is fun and energetic, which has always been important to D’Antoni.
“The big thing in anything is, if you are who you are, you feel comfortable about wishing other people well,” D’Antoni said. “I want these kids to benefit from playing at Marshall and from some of the things we can bring to the table. After that, the chips fall where they may.”
D’Antoni feels as if — with everything else in NCAA rules changes — there will be an adjustment period to the new rules, whether it is the NCAA umbrella or Congress putting them forward.
No matter where the NIL debate goes, D’Antoni said his program will adjust accordingly and continue to work toward what’s best for the players.
“Anytime you change, you look at all the things that could not go well and you have a tendency to be negative toward what’s going on,” D’Antoni said. “I’m just not that way. It’s not how I see things.
“Regardless of those decisions, Marshall will have basketball, Marshall will survive as a university and we’ll make the best out of whatever comes out of it.”