ST. LOUIS — The summer is usually a quieter period for college athletics, but the athletic departments at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and McKendree University have found themselves busy in recent days.
That’s because the Metro East universities have been preparing for the rollout of Illinois’ Student-Athlete Endorsement Act, which became effective Thursday and allows college athletes to earn compensation for their name, image and likeness rights. Separately this week, the NCAA implemented an interim policy allowing student-athletes nationwide to cash in on their name, image and likeness, essentially reversing long-held policies that prohibited individuals from earning income of their status as student athletes.
Even before the NCAA's announcement this week, Illinois colleges were preparing athletic departments for the rollout of the state legislation. At SIUE, Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Katie Zingg said its athletics department — which operates at the Division 1 level for all sports — has worked with the university’s general counsel to develop educational material and forms to implement across the department related to name, image and likeness.
“The biggest step was to familiarize ourselves with Illinois’ law and develop a plan on how to comply and maximize the potential student-athlete opportunities,” Zingg said.
Moving forward, Zingg said SIUE plans to create several education opportunities for its student-athletes regarding the new legislation and offer one-on-one meetings to help students navigate potential opportunities.
While it might seem the new policy will have the greatest impact on the most high-profile college athletes — particularly the NFL or NBA-bound prospects with huge endorsement potential — Zingg said the opportunities are wide ranging.
“We have had athletes from several different sports approached prior to this being permissible, so the opportunities are out there for everyone,” she said. "I think a lot of the focus is on the endorsement opportunities this legislation creates, but that overlooks the opportunities for student-athletes to create their own businesses selling artwork, photography, etc."
Nationwide, some high-profile Division 1 schools are employing third-party companies to help them craft their approach to the new name, image and likeness rules. Others are also engaging the business community directly. For example, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign invited business leaders this week to an open house event to provide a run-down on the Illinois legislation and offer details on “how to best take advantage for businesses and organizations."
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