More than 10 months after college athletes were first allowed to begin profiting from their name, image and likeness, the NCAA plans to begin cracking down on recruiting violations related to NIL.
New guidance released by the NCAA on Monday specifies that boosters cannot make NIL deals with recruits or have conversations with recruits about NIL to entice them to attend a specific school. The guidance also specifies that NIL deals for current athletes may not be contingent on athletic performance or achievement or on an athlete enrolling at or continuing to attend a specific school.
The new guidance is effective immediately. Per a news release by the NCAA on Monday, the NCAA will consider pursuing retroactive action against violations that have already occurred over the last 10 months, though the Division I Board of Directors directed the NCAA’s enforcement staff to “pursue only those actions that clearly are contrary to the published interim policy, including the most severe violations of recruiting rules or payment for athletics performance.”
“Today, the Division I Board of Directors took a significant first step to address some of the challenges and improper behaviors that exist in the name, image and likeness environment that may violate our long-established recruiting rules,” Georgia president Jere Morehead, the chair of the board, said in a statement. “While the NCAA may pursue the most outrageous violations that were clearly contrary to the interim policy adopted last summer, our focus is on the future. The new guidance establishes a common set of expectations for the Division I institutions moving forward, and the board expects all Division I institutions to follow our recruiting rules and operate within these reasonable expectations.”
Per Monday’s release, “only the most serious actions that clearly violate the previously published interim policy would have eligibility implications” on current and prospective athletes, as “the emphasis of this NIL guidance is on boosters in the recruiting process.”
The new guidance would apply to the two NIL collectives that have been launched to support Ohio State athletes, The Foundation and Cohesion Foundation, though Ohio State had already instructed both of those collectives not to make deals with recruits.
Brian Schottenstein, co-founder of The Foundation, told Eleven Warriors on Monday that he thinks the new guidelines will benefit Ohio State.
“I think for us, it's actually really a positive thing, because we were already following all the guidelines,” Schottenstein said. “So now we're going to be able to even compete more with the schools down south that haven't been. So I'm excited about it. And we're going to continue just to focus now on the current student-athletes, like we've been doing.̦”
While The Foundation had some conversations with recruits before Monday’s guidelines were released, Schottenstein said The Foundation never made any deals with recruits and that it will no longer communicate with recruits now that the new guidelines have been passed.
“We will totally stop just because we want to continue to make sure there's no misconception or whatever,” Schottenstein said. “I think when recruits see the deals that we're doing with the current players and how much money they're making from all the businesses throughout Central Ohio, and we have a really good business community here, I think that'll help us attract them to come here.”
Gary Marcinick, founder of Cohesion Foundation, told Eleven Warriors he doesn’t think the NCAA guidelines will “change our behavior at all,” as Cohesion also has not offered any deals to recruits.
Marcinick isn’t convinced the new guidelines will stop other collectives from making deals with recruits, though, because he thinks they remain too ambiguous about what collectives are and are not allowed to do.
“I think rule followers want to know the rules. And even for a rule follower when they're gray, it's stressful because you really don't know where the line is,” Marcinick said. “It sounds as if unless something is egregious, there's just not going to be a lot of enforceability or a lot of consequences. I think it's got to be something really blatant. And then you have to rely on the parties to cooperate.”
How strictly the new NCAA guidelines will actually be enforced remains in question, as Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith – one of the chairs of the NIL working group that put together the new guidelines – has acknowledged that the NCAA is likely to face lawsuits once it begins enforcing the new guidelines due to varying NIL laws in different states throughout the country.
The NCAA, however, has decided the risk of lawsuits is now worth taking as it looks to put a stop to the rampant rise of NIL deals being used as recruiting inducements for athletes to attend specific schools.