Today is June 24. D-Day is July 1 -- the day six states (New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia) each have their own NIL laws set to go into effect, with a number of more states set to follow. To a national organization, the idea some kids could profit off their status as college athletes while others could not is an untenable nightmare.
And so after years of planning for this moment, it appears the NCAA has finally settled on a strategy with one week and counting to go: A shrug and an "IDK, y'all figure it out yourselves."
That's according to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, who reports that this would be the NCAA's temporary, stopgap model:
Under the plan, effective July 1, the NCAA would mostly exempt itself from NIL. Schools in states with an NIL law may follow that law without penalty, and schools located in states without a statute are granted permission to each create and administer their own NIL policy, as long as they use guiding principles such as prohibiting NIL ventures designed as pay-for-play or recruiting inducements.
The new approach comes after six Division I commissioners asked the NCAA to let schools make up their own rules.
Two things brought the NCAA to this point:
1) The NCAA has begged and pleaded for Congress to pass an overarching federal rule and, while that may happen at some point, it won't be in place by next Thursday.
2) Monday's Alston v. NCAA ruling, a 9-0 shutout against the NCAA, has spooked the NCAA. The wording within that ruling implied the NCAA is extreeemly vulnerable to any and all antitrust lawsuits, and so this is not the time and place to install restrictive policies.
The sticking points here are many, but the main one is this: Do you allow, say, Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez to wear his Huskers jersey and stand inside Memorial Stadium to shoot a commercial for the local Toyota dealership, or do you not?
By punting the hard decisions to the schools, the NCAA takes the bullseye off its own forehead. If athletes at Iowa have an issue with their more restrictive policy compared to Wisconsin's, their issue is with Iowa's interpretation of the NIL rule, not the NCAA.
This being the NCAA, nothing can be decided quickly -- not even emergency legislation with the clock tick, tick, ticking toward an existential crisis. The Division I Board of Directors -- a group of presidents and chancellors -- are set to discuss the proposal virtually later today. The Division I Council -- a group of conference commissioners and school athletic personnel -- will meet Monday, but even that's not the end of it. The Board will then meet again Wednesday, at which point a final vote would be taken.
Wednesday is June 30, one day before the deadline.
This is all peak NCAA. In fact, the closer we get to July 1, the closer to peak NCAA we get.