By Nick Suss
Mississippi Clarion Ledger
OXFORD, Miss. — This is only the beginning.
The NCAA announced Wednesday morning that its board of governors supports rule changes that would allow student-athletes to profit off their names, images and likenesses. This legislation would not allow universities to compensate athletes directly, but would allow for athletes to earn money from third-party sources such as event appearances, autograph signings and advertisements.
Speaking with the Clarion Ledger just an hour after the NCAA's announcement on Wednesday, Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter praised the move as a positive step. Carter said he estimates that this announcement, however, only brings the NCAA about 25% of the way toward student-athletes actually receiving name, image and likeness compensation.
Simply put, supporting a rule change is different than having legislation in place. As of the end of February, 26 states had introduced bills that would allow for college athletes to profit off name, image and likeness, including SEC states Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina. A national bill has yet to be introduced though, making it more difficult to standardize what would be permissible across the country.
On top of that, there hasn't been much conversation about who would regulate these payments. The NCAA? The institutions themselves? A yet-to-be created governing body? To Carter, that's the biggest issue that needs to be solved right now.
"I think there are certainly some things that we’ll have to adjust and some new procedures and protocols to put into place," Carter said. "But if it goes the way I think it’s going to go, I think there’s going to be another governing body that will help monitor this and make sure everything’s in place and then they’ll work in conjunction with our compliance."
Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin seems to agree with his boss. Kiffin was a guest on FOX Sports host Colin Cowherd's radio show Wednesday afternoon and he shined some light on his thoughts about the NCAA's announcement.
"I just don’t know how it’s going to be managed,” Kiffin said. “You’re opening up a can of worms. How can you manage donors [who say], ‘Hey, you come to this school, the day you get here I’m going to buy 1,000 of your jerseys for 100 bucks.’ I don’t understand how all that’s going to get managed and that part scares me a lot.”
Discussions about the next steps seem to already have started. Carter said the SEC's 14 athletics directors joined on a conference call Wednesday morning. He said he expects the SEC to be one of the leading authorities in establishing what will and won't happen with this legislation and how it will be enforced.
Moving forward is a key piece of Carter's philosophy on this matter.
It may be bizarre seeing Ole Miss and the NCAA work together to figure out fair ways to compensate student-athletes less than five years after the two bodies went to court against one another based on the fallout of an investigation that centered around Ole Miss players who received impermissible benefits. But the past is the past.
Carter said he thinks student-athletes deserve more avenues for compensation. This announcement is about them.
"I know we’re so ready just to move on," Carter said. "What we went through was something very, very difficult. But I think if you look back over college athletics or any industry over the past 40, 50 years, things change. Rules change and policies change. All we can do is adhere to the policies that are in place and certainly as we move forward, we’ll adjust to NIL and see where it goes."