NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – For years, some college athletes have been getting free cars, but now its actually legal. The new name, image and likeness rules are changing the game for college athletes.
Back when the Oklahoma Legislature passed the bills to make it possible for college athletes in our state to cash in on their personal brand, we knew we would see it happen. Players have come a long way from the days of getting in trouble for eating too much pasta.
“It was only a matter of time that these athletes would be able to get car deals,” said OU Athletics Executive Director of Compliance Jason Leonard.
The head of OU Athletics Compliance is talking about seeing a picture of OU quarterback Spencer Rattler posed with two vehicles he will have this season, free, after signing a name, image and likeness deal with a local dealership.
“They tweet, they put stuff out on social media and they get paid for doing that,” said Leonard.
After years of former players fighting for it in the courts, this spring, states around the country passed laws to allow for college athletes to profit from their brand.
“Its come a long way from being so worried about an extra entrée option, to where we are at now with the name image and likeness,” said Gabe Ikard
Ikard was a football player at OU in 2014 when he and his fellow offensive lineman got in trouble for eating too much pasta at a catered athlete lunch, having to donate $3.83 to charity to avoid NCAA penalties.
“I have no problem with them making money off their skill sets, just like the rest of us,” said Ikard.
“If a normal student at a university can go on Tik Tok and gain a million followers, they get paid for it. Student athletes should be no different,” said Kelli Masters.
The certified sports agent says she can now sign players in college and help them secure NIL deals, but that contract can not automatically follow the player on to the pros. She says images like the one of Rattler and the cars, show how much the game has evolved.
“If we took that picture back and showed it to fans, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and seeing what is being allowed now, I think we would all be shaking our heads, saying, ‘That’s unimaginable,’” said Masters.
But OU officials say as much as some things have changed, there are still NCAA rules that have to be followed.
“It can’t be just a situation where if they play well, they get free food, drinks, whatever, that’s not permissible. That’s pay for play,” said Leonard.
Experts stress not all athletes are getting free cars. They say most NIL deals are very minor. Leonard says there is still a lot of gray area in the rules that the NCAA has yet to clarify.