This Day In Sports: A new world for college athletes

June 30, 2021, two years ago today: The NCAA, rebuffed by the Supreme Court in its effort to prevent athletes from accepting compensation for name, image and likeness, announces an interim NIL policy. With that, the stage was set for a seismic change in college sports the following day.Yes, athletes were allowed to profit from NIL for the first time. Nine days earlier, the Supreme Court had ruled unanimously that the NCAA could not limit such benefits to athletes. And on July 1, scores of athletes began to sign endorsement deals.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh was at the core of the court’s decision. “Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate,” Kavanaugh wrote. “The NCAA is not above the law.”

While there were no federal guidelines in place, leaving a lot of questions about compliance, Boise State was proactive in creating NIL policies and procedures. The university had been working on a plan since that March of that year, and the Broncos were able to hit the floor running. The Broncos promoted Mike Walsh to Associate Athletic Director for Business Development and Revenue Innovation, and he created an in-house name, image and likeness program.

At the 2022 NIL Summit, Boise State won the award for Best Institutional Program, beating out Power 5 heavyweights such as Michigan and Ohio State. Last fall, Walsh was named one of the top 25 most influential figures in NIL. His focus is on initiatives that will benefit all athletes, beginning with the football trading cards featuring every single Bronco.

Last September, the non-profit Horseshoe Collective was launched, creating opportunities for Broncos athletes to be compensated for involvement in charitable causes. It is led by Boise State’s former head of media relations, Joe Nickell. NIL is largely out of control in the upper reaches of the Power 5. It’s a free-for-all begging for legislation. At Boise State, NIL is what it was originally meant to be: an opportunity for athletes to earn money on the side (key word: earn) in exchange for the use of their name, image and likeness.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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