Editorial: Schools must support, educate athletes as they face new financial opportunities

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

On July 1, the NCAA eliminated a ban on the ability of student-athletes to make money through endorsements, autographs and other uses of their names, images and likenesses.

The road to that point was chaotic. The Indianapolis-based NCAA acted under public pressure and in the wake of votes by several state Legislatures to allow students to profit from their athletic abilities.

In fact, the NCAA lifted its ban the day many of those laws were set to take effect.

The NCAA’s new rules are vague, leaving it to colleges to create their own guidelines for student-athletes. NCAA President Mark Emmert said he had hoped the NCAA could be more detailed in its rules—and it had been studying how to do so—but federal authorities warned that such action could create antitrust violations.

The new opportunities are exciting for student-athletes, who have been subjected to restrictions that students who are talented in other ways—even those who receive scholarships as a result—haven’t faced.

And the opportunities exist not only for the most celebrated athletes, who might be in line for hefty contracts to endorse clothing lines or shoes. Hometown heroes—kids who exceled in high school but might only be middle of the road in college—might now have the opportunity to appear in ads for local car dealerships, make appearances at local camps or pitch products on social media.

But navigating this new world won’t be easy, and universities have an obligation to protect student-athletes as they are suddenly faced with decisions that could impact their financial lives for years to come.

We are pleased to see that many schools—including some in Indiana—see this responsibility as an opportunity.

Take Indiana University, which has been planning for changes in name, image and likeness rules for nearly a year. Like many schools, the university has partnered with companies that helped student-athletes prepare for the July 1 change and can now help them partner with companies that might want to pay them for the use of their names and images.

In addition, IU is expanding its existing student-athlete development and wellness programming—which already included leadership and financial literacy training—to provide education related to brand management, brand development, business education, personal finance, taxes, entrepreneurship, contracts and agent selection.

Purdue University’s athletics department, meanwhile, has teamed with Purdue’s Krannert School of Management to launch Empower, a program to help student-athletes with brand management, financial literacy and entrepreneurship training.

Krannert Dean David Hummels said Empower is meant to “prepare students to cultivate, maximize and monetize their personal brands, giving them an advantage over their peers.”

We applaud these programs and urge schools to make them as robust as promised—and to expand and adjust them as the opportunities for students evolve. The skills students learn will readily translate into their post-graduate world and serve them well throughout their lives.•

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