With college athletes now able to profit from their name, image and likeness, those players have effectively turned themselves into potential sentient billboards – and that might extend to the football field.
As Big 12 Coordinator of Officials Greg Burks explained at the conference's media days this week, a technicality in the NCAA rules has created a gray area that could allow individual athletes to stick endorsements or advertisements on their uniforms this fall.
“The NCAA has now OK'd a 16-square-inch patch, four inches by four inches, for any sentiment that you want to hold on to,” Burks said after his rules presentation at Big 12 Media Days. “So unity, whatever it may be, and the individual player can wear that. Not everyone has to wear that.
“So when you ask me about NIL, if (a player) wants to put (a sponsor), does he have that right? Who screens whether or not that’s valid? I don’t have those answers.”
Though the intent of the patch was not for endorsements, the vague language of the rule doesn't necessarily prohibit a player from using the space for an advertisement. And if someone is willing to pay, that could be tough to turn down.
“I do know that if I could put a patch on (my jersey), and you pay me 100 grand for that patch, I’d look at it,” said. “But the rules are pretty specific as to what can go on the uniform.”
The NCAA could, of course, clarify things by simply setting their own uniform NIL guidelines, but with nearly a month before the season starts, we still have nothing.
Needless to say, this could be a wild season.