Several States remain unaffiliated with NCAA's athlete compensation policy
May 17, 2022
After nearly a year of banning athlete compensation, the NCAA issued a warning that it would further enforce the rules surrounding NIL deals. The organization's stance on the issue has sparked speculation that it could be cracking down on schools that break the rules.
Over 20 states have enacted laws that specifically allow the types of compensation that the NCAA still prohibits. Critics of the new system also believe that schools are still violating the rules.
Despite the laws being passed in various states since 2019, officials in many jurisdictions have not shown the same willingness to investigate the activities of schools and third-party groups involved in providing athletes compensation.
In Florida and Texas, the states with some of the biggest college basketball programs in the country, the authorities have not enforced the laws against schools and organizations that violate the pay-for-play rules.
State bans on pay-for-play
Although the NCAA has been criticized for not taking action against schools that violate its rules, the same can be said for the states. Darren Heitner, who helped develop the Florida law, noted that the authorities in the state had not enforced it.
According to Heitner, the lack of state laws prohibiting pay-for-play and recruiting deals had helped calm down the concerns of lawmakers. However, he noted that the authorities had not been able to target powerful individuals such as coaches and wealthy donors.
In Alabama, for instance, providing financial assistance to an athlete who lost their eligibility could result in up to 10 years in prison. This type of punishment was included in the state's law.
However, this law was repealed by the state's lawmakers earlier this year. The original author of the legislation said it would have disadvantaged the state's schools by making them compete with programs that pay athletes in other regions.
In Arkansas, athletes have the right to sue their agents and third-party entities that provide them with improper compensation.
Clarifying contract types
Out of the 50 states, only half of them have laws that prevent improper compensation of athletes. As a result, schools in half other areas have been left to navigate the NCAA's new rules without any clear guidance. On top of that, the NCAA announced it would not allow the use of pay-for-play and other improper incentives in June 2021.
The NCAA eventually took back its enforcement role after issuing new guidance to prevent the use of improper incentives and contracts.
Despite the lack of a comprehensive enforcement effort, the NCAA claimed it did not expect to see a massive crackdown on the issue. The organization said it had too many contracts and athletes to look into.
Instead, the NCAA is expected to focus on the various contracts and deals that have been established through third-party organizations and business owners. These deals involve millions of dollars in exchange for athletes' services.
The organization is also expected to use the example of collective bargaining to stop the prevalence of improper incentives and contracts. However, Heitner noted that the NCAA still had a problem.
"It's positioned itself where it has no choice but to try to make an example out of a booster or a collective," Heitner said. "Otherwise, what was the point? ... If it doesn't, it's powerless and obsolete. It still has that problem that it knows it is going to be sued."