‘It's the Wild, Wild West': Student-Athletes Now Allowed to Profit Off Their Name, Image and Likeness

After decades of debate, student-athletes can now benefit financially from cash that college sports programs bring in

It's been debated for decades but now, college athletes can finally make money off their fame.

From merchandise to public appearances to social media posts, athletes are jumping at the opportunity.

“I think it’s really good. I think it gives athletes the ability to build their brand,” said incoming TCU basketball player JaKobe Coles.

Starting Thursday, college athletes are allowed to make money off their names, images, and likenesses after the NCAA suspended rules Wednesday prohibiting student-athletes from pursuing endorsement deals.

It comes as new laws take effect Thursday allowing athletes in at least six states including Alabama, Florida, and Texas to profit.

“If the state hasn't passed a law, the school can make up what they want to so it's the wild, wild west right now,” said Dan Gale, president of Leona Marketing Group.

In Texas, athletes still have limitations.

Endorsing alcohol and tobacco products, e-cigarettes, anabolic steroids, sports betting, casino gambling, a firearm the student-athlete cannot legally purchase, or a sexually-oriented business are off-limits, according to SB1385 passed by the Texas Senate in June.

Gale says athletes can’t use a school’s intellectual properties in their deals, either.

“That's the big thing a lot of people aren't talking about is what has more value, the school's name or the athlete's name?” Gale said

Using endorsements to recruit is also off limits.

But schools like the University of Texas have rolled out programs to teach athletes how to leverage their platforms, a tool Gale says is already being used in recruiting.

“There's already a big disparity between Texas and UTEP,” Gale said. “It’s just going to create an even bigger gap.”

For athletes like Coles, it means opportunity off the court.

“I'll be able to network and meet all different people and kind of have an idea for what I want to do with my life after basketball like, I think it’ll be a great opportunity for everybody,” Coles said.

Congress is considering a bill that would provide a nationwide standard, but no action is imminent.

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