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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Student athletes to monetize names, images, likenesses upon NCAA policy

Aside+from+the+two+Aggies%2C+there+are+an+additional+533+female+student-athletes+included+on+the+list+from+a+range+of+24+sports+across+all+three+NCAA+divisions.
Via Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Aside from the two Aggies, there are an additional 533 female student-athletes included on the list from a range of 24 sports across all three NCAA divisions.

On June 30, the NCAA Division I Board of Governors approved an interim policy which gives student athletes the ability to monetize their names, images and likenesses, or NIL. On July 1, 12 states’ laws, including Texas, permitted student athletes to do so.
Texas A&M student athletes can now capitalize on the law and NCAA policy. A&M Athletic Director Ross Bjork said it is a “new day” in the world of college sports.
“At some point in time, probably will not happen until the fall, there’s going to be a congressional approach, a national standard to all of this, a national law if you will,” Bjork said. “So we may live under the Texas law for a little bit and then we may have to flip to federal oversight in a federal law. So there’s going to be a kind of an involvement to all of this over the next 3-6 months, the next year, as we adapt to it.”
With the new rules, universities may not set up any arrangements for athletes. However, all athletes must report their contracts to the university so that the school can determine if school policies or state laws are being violated.
“The only thing that we can do in name, image, likeness is we can educate our student-athletes,” Bjork said. “We can educate our boosters and our fans. But we cannot set up agreements between an athlete and a business, between an athlete and a booster, between an athlete and an entity who may not be a former student or a booster of A&M Athletics. We can’t arrange anything. We can’t set fair market value. We can’t arrange. We can monitor, we can educate.”
A&M and the Aggie Network, with its 500,000-plus former students, holds an advantage upon many other schools, Bjork said.
“People keep asking what’s going to be the impact? How will this work? No one has the answer to that because it’s never happened before,” Bjork said. “Do I anticipate on July 1 that we’ll have some contracts turned in from our students? Absolutely I do. How many? I don’t know. I’ve seen some social media activity with some of our athletes who talk about being ready. They may have some things in place, but until July 1 rolls around, they can’t sign anything.”
Despite the potential lucrative opportunities now open to athletes, some are hesitant to embrace the NIL changes, but Bjork said A&M is fully supportive.
“You could look at it one or two ways. You could say, ‘Boy, we’re not going to do anything. We’re not going to embrace this.’ This can be a disaster. This can be the wild wild West. And maybe it will be. Maybe we’re not anticipating what might happen. You can also say we have 500,000+ former students. We do live in the state of Texas. We have 25 million people within 250 miles. The brand of A&M is valuable.”
One of the concerns with NIL is the potential effects on the value of a scholarship, as athletes may now be able to exceed the costs of a university in profit. When the ability to profit for top athletes overcomes the value of a college degree, the value of a scholarship undoubtedly fluctuates. This ruling will also hold effects upon recruiting, causing top athletes to determine what school may present the most lucrative NIL opportunities.
“What does the future hold in terms of the value of the scholarship, the structure of the scholarship? How does name, image, likeness layer into that,” Bjork said. “So even though name, image, likeness was separate from the ruling, there was conversation in the opinion about really the model of college athletics and the rights of student-athletes. And so I think it just goes back to who are we as college athletics? We need to identify what our purpose is, what our mission is. What is the structure of the scholarship? How do we move forward?”
Many A&M athletes have already discussed taking advantage of NIL opportunities on social media, such as defensive backs senior Leon O’Neal and junior safety Demani Richardson.
“Every student in college station need a WakeEmUp Tee or Hoodie,” O’Neal said on twitter, hinting towards merchandise of a personal brand.
Regardless of the unknowns surrounding NIL, Bjork said A&M is committed to adapting to the needs of its students to present them with the best opportunities they can.
“We’re fortunate to have the Aggie Network. Whatever that model is, we can adapt to it,” Bjork said. “A&M can be a leader in [NIL]. But it’s a really fascinating time, the most transformative time definitely in my career and probably in the history of college athletics.”

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