What is NIL? Name, Image, and Likeness

NIL stands for “name, image, and likeness.” It has to do with the ability of college athletes to earn money from sponsorship deals and other advertising dollars. Until recently, it was illegal under NCAA rules.

What does NIL mean?

“NIL” stands for “name, image, and likeness.” It has to do with the ability of college athletes to earn money from their “name, image, and likeness.” In other words, college athletes can accept sponsorship deals, and other advertising dollars. 

NIL is significant because college athletes are otherwise unpaid. They are compensated for their skills and labor with scholarships for tuition, as well as other school-related benefits such as dining dollars, housing assistance, and more. NIL is a way for college students to earn additional money on top of their scholarships. 

Supreme Court NCAA Decision

In June of 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling that has the potential to dramatically reshape college football. The case—NCAA vs Alston—raised potential antitrust issues with the NCAA. The Court ruled that the NCAA cannot prevent students from receiving benefits related to education. The Court argued that the NCAA was seeking exemption from normal antitrust laws—and that they would not be granted it.

The Alston ruling opened up NIL in college athletics

After the Alson ruling in 2021, the NCAA changed its longstanding policy that outlawed players earning money from their name, image, and likeness.

Prior to the NCAA vs. Alston Supreme Court case, college athletes could not earn money from their NIL. The NCAA forbid it. However, the Supreme Court case has had a dramatic impact. This rule change came in large part due to the pressure that the Alston ruling placed on the NCAA as a potential violator of antitrust laws.

The NCAA has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and it is the only system that college football players can compete under. At the same time, it has not paid any of its athletes. College athletes are highly skilled individuals; they are of legal age to work in the United States; and they dedicate significant time and labor that generates massive revenue for the NCAA.

While the Alston Supreme Court case did not rule on college athletes being directly paid, it did prompt the NCAA to change its NIL rules. It also opens the door for more cases. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the concurring opinion that signals that the Court will rule similarly in future cases against the NCAA. As a result, the NCAA is under significant pressure to change course. One of the consequences of that is that players are allowed to monetize their NIL—and begin to earn some compensation for their skills and labor.

So Can College Athletes Make Money?

Yes, as of 2021, college athletes can now earn money from their name, image, and likeness. College athletics has historically been an “amateur” competition. The NCAA used this term, “amateur,” to argue that athletes should not be compensated for their skills and labor. That facade is starting to crumble with the Alston case and NIL rule change.

How the NCAA handles NIL

Before the NIL rule change, some states in 2021 were already planning to allow college athletes to monetize their personal brands in their state. There were several states, such as South Carolina and Florida, that were set to make NIL legal for college athletes in July of 2021. That—combined with the June, 2021, Alston ruling—forced the NCAA’s hand; change had to come.

Who Was Walter Camp?

Walter Camp is known as the “father of modern football.” Read about his life: his early years and education, his time as a player and coach, and his lasting legacy.

Jump through the article here:

Walter Camp’s Family Background

Walter Camp: Player and Coach

Walter Camp’s All-American Football Team

Walter Camp’s Death and Posthumous Awards

Walter Camp’s Family Background

Walter Camp was born in Connecticut in 1859. His family was originally from England. He was the descendant of one of the first settlers of New England, English colonist Nicholas Camp.1 Nicholas Camp came to America in 1630 and landed in Massachusetts before soon resettling in Connecticut.1

More than 200 years later, Nicholas Camp’s descendant, Walter Camp, grew up around New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Yale University as an undergraduate student, as well as a medical student, from 1876-1881 (though Walter Camp would drop out of medical school).2 Walter Camp was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity at Yale, as well as the Linonian Society and Skull and Bones.6

Walter Camp’s family owned the New Haven Clock Company, the world’s largest clockmaker at the time of Camp’s birth.4 Camp would end up leaving medical school at Yale to work in the family business.

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Walter Camp: Player and Coach

At Yale, Walter Camp played halfback on the football team and was later named team captain.2 Camp would go on to serve as the head coach at Yale from 1888-1892 while continuing to work in the family business.4 Camp posted a record of 67-2 during those years at Yale.2 Camp would also coach at Stanford for a few years in the early 1890s.

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Walter Camp’s All-American Football Team

Starting in 1889, Walter Camp and Caspar Whitney began working together to choose the “All-America” football team every year.2 Starting in 1898 and lasting until 1924, the All-American team was published under Camp’s name alone. The selection of the Walter Camp All-American team continues to this day.

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Walter Camp’s Death and Posthumous Awards

Walter Camp died in 1925 at the age of 65. It is reported that Camp died from heart disease and overexertion.7 He passed away in New York, NY. In 1951, Walter Camp was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of its first class.2 Walter Camp is known as the father of modern American football.

Read more about the innovations to American football that Walter Camp made here!

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