NCAA opens the NIL floodgates

It’s time to make some money, kids.

The NCAA, caught between a Congress that has yet to create national name, image, and likeness standards and a Supreme Court that has made abundantly clear that any NCAA-imposed limits violate antitrust laws, finally has allowed student-athletes to capitalize on their fame.

The NIL floodgates are indeed open.

“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement, via ESPN.com. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level. The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”

In other words, the NCAA can’t enact broad, sweeping rules that restrict in any way the concept of free enterprise that applies to any other 18-to-21-year-old who becomes a celebrity. Actors can make as much as they want from their fame. Musicians can make as much as they want from their fame. People who have fame for no apparent reason cam make as much money as they want from their fame.

Now, athletes can. And no one should limit it. If Congress acts, the NCAA surely will be lobbying aggressively to get Congress to craft the rules the NCAA wants but no longer can impose on its own. It should be open. It should be free. Every college athlete, no matter the gender and no matter the sport, should be allowed to make as much money as he or she can or wants.

Here’s hoping the floodgates remain open. When it comes to fair treatment of athletes, it’s hardly the end. But it’s definitely a good beginning.