States hands off when it comes to NCAA, athlete compensation

May 15, 2022, 11:45 AM | Updated: May 16, 2022, 10:15 am
FILE - Signage at the headquarters of the NCAA is viewed in Indianapolis, March 12, 2020. By trying...

FILE - Signage at the headquarters of the NCAA is viewed in Indianapolis, March 12, 2020. By trying to limit how much schools can help college athletes cashing in on their fame, the NCAA seems to have inadvertently opened the door for boosters to get a foothold in a burgeoning market. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The NCAA waited nearly a year to issue a warning that there are still rules to follow now that college athletes can earn money off their fame, sparking speculation that a crackdown could be coming for schools and boosters that break them.

But the NCAA isn’t the only enforcement organization that stayed quiet as millions of dollars started flying around college athletes.

Nearly half the states, 24 in all, have laws regarding athlete compensation, all passed since 2019. Several specifically ban the sort of pay-for-play and recruiting enticement deals the NCAA still outlaws and critics of the new system worry about.

Yet those states have shown no appetite to question or investigate the schools, the contracts or the third-party groups orchestrating them. Even if they did, there is little legal framework for how they would do it.

Texas and Florida, two states with major college football and basketball programs, ban pay-for-play contracts and using deals to lure recruits to campus. But neither state set up mechanisms to investigate or punish a school, organization or agent caught breaking the rules.

“A lot of people are referencing the NCAA not taking action, but the same can be said about states,” said Darren Heitner, an attorney who helped craft the Florida law.

The unenforced state bans on pay-for-play and recruiting deals calmed lawmakers who worried that college sports they love were changing, said Heitner, an advocate for athletes’ rights to earn money. But there has been no indication a state attorney general or local prosecutor will go after a big university, coach and wealthy donors if the team is bringing in top players and winning.

Alabama was one state that did have specific punishment in its law: Anyone providing compensation to an athlete that caused them to lose eligibility faced a potential Class C felony, which carried up to 10 years in prison.

But Alabama lawmakers repealed the state’s entire college athlete compensation law earlier this year. The law’s original author called for the repeal because he worried it left Alabama schools at a recruiting disadvantage compared with rival schools in other states that didn’t have similar restrictions.

Arkansas gives some legal power to the athletes in that state. They can sue their agent or another third party that offers or sets up a deal later deemed improper and they are declared ineligible to play.

Half the states don’t have athlete compensation laws. Schools there have been left to navigate the general parameters the NCAA provided in June 2021 on the eve of the NIL era and to wait to see what would be enforced. Pay-for-play and “improper inducements” were still off the table, the NCAA said then, but there were few details and NIL deals were struck by the hundreds in the weeks that followed.

The NCAA finally stepped back into its enforcement role with new guidance that sought to clarify the types of contracts and booster involvement that should be considered improper.

Few expect a massive crackdown and the Division I Board of Governors noted that its focus was on the future. There’s simply too many athletes and too many contracts for NCAA enforcement to look at them all.

“The enforcement is going to fall on the NCAA, (but) there’s no way they’ll try to look at thousands of deals,” said Mit Winter, a sports law attorney in Kansas City, Missouri.

The NCAA will more likely look at some of the highly publicized deals set up through prominent business owners and third-party collectives that have popped up around dozens of schools to pool millions of dollars and connect athletes with business deals.

“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.”

NCAA officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

At Texas, the nonprofit Horns With Heart raised eyebrows when it announced just before the December football national signing day that it would offer all Longhorns scholarship offensive linemen $50,000 NIL deals to support charities. A few days later, Texas signed one of the top recruiting classes in the country with a bumper crop of blue-chip offensive linemen.

Horns With Heart co-founder Rob Blair was unconcerned by the warning from the NCAA, saying the nonprofit has played by the rules since it launched.

“We realized at the beginning of the NIL era that this Wild West attitude would eventually lead us to a moment like this, that is why we set out to be different,” Blair said in an email. “We have gone above and beyond to ensure we not only follow the letter of the law of NIL regulation, but we feel we also represent the spirit of the NIL laws as they were originally written.”

Aside from NCAA enforcement staff, university compliance directors — long the watchdogs over athletes and their eligibility — are trying to navigate a shifting landscape with murky rules.

Lyla Clerry, Iowa’s senior associate athletics director for compliance, welcomed the NCAA’s renewed guidance on athlete endorsement contracts if it means they will be enforced.

“Honestly, I don’t know that I have a lot of faith that I’m going to see that happening,” Clerry said, noting the last year has been “frustrating” for compliance officials.

“You don’t really know, well, what should we be enforcing, because what is the NCAA going to enforce? So we can’t constantly be beating our heads trying to enforce things that nationally aren’t getting enforced,” Clerry said. “I don’t know if I would say it’s operating blindly, but we’re definitely in the dark.”

___

AP Sports Writer Eric Olson contributed to this report.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Rains start to pour as Typhoon Noru approaches Manila, Philippines, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. The pow...
Associated Press

Powerful typhoon leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Typhoon Noru blew out of the northern Philippines on Monday, leaving five rescuers dead, causing floods and power outages and forcing officials to suspend classes and government work in the capital and outlying provinces. The most powerful typhoon to hit the country this year slammed into the coast in Burdeos town […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka toast each other...
Associated Press

Japanese leader’s trip to China in ’72 was diplomatic gamble

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese leader who normalized relations with China 50 years ago feared for his life when he flew to Beijing for the high-stakes negotiations at the height of the Cold War, according to his daughter, a former Japanese foreign minister. Kakuei Tanaka’s mission to normalize relations with China just two months after […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Ex...
Associated Press

Musk faces deposition with Twitter ahead of October trial

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk is scheduled to spend the next few days with lawyers for Twitter, answering questions ahead of an October trial that will determine whether he must carry through with his $44 billion agreement to acquire the social platform after attempting to back out of the deal. The deposition, […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Gov. Phil Bryant speaks about his legacy following a life of public service, Jan. 8, 2020, i...
Associated Press

Texts: Favre also sought welfare money for football facility

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — After Mississippi spent millions of dollars in welfare money on Brett Favre’s pet project, a university volleyball arena, the retired NFL quarterback tried two years later to get additional cash from the state’s welfare agency for another sports facility, new court documents show. The governor at the time, Republican Phil Bryant, […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Man arrested in California plotted mass shooting

CHICO, Calif. (AP) — A 37-year-old man was arrested Sunday in Northern California on suspicion of threatening to kill police officers and planning a “Las Vegas-style” mass shooting, authorities said. The suspect was taken into custody by SWAT officers at a Super 8 motel in Chico after detectives obtained evidence of his plot, according to […]
20 hours ago
A sedan is wedged between a small, black pickup truck and the Bagel Time Cafe in Wildwood, N.J., ea...
Associated Press

Official: 2 killed amid crashes during pop-up NJ car rally

WILDWOOD, N.J. (AP) — A pop-up car rally over the weekend in southern New Jersey led to multiple crashes and the deaths of at least two people riding in a golf cart, officials say. Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron told NJ Advance Media on Sunday that there were a series of car crashes related to the […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
States hands off when it comes to NCAA, athlete compensation