The NCAA has once again delayed its selection of an official third-party administrator to help monitor and record all new marketing deals involving college athletes, a critical part of the governing body’s plan to let athletes make money off their name, image and likeness (NIL).
The NCAA informed finalists on Friday that it is still evaluating options, and that they shouldn’t expect to hear from the organization until mid-January at the earliest, according to multiple people familiar with the communication. This is the second time the decision has been delayed. Candidates were originally told to expect an answer by Nov. 20, and that was later pushed to Dec. 4.
The delay will further shorten the window for whichever company or companies are eventually chosen by the NCAA to be its NIL clearinghouse. The new marketing regulations are expected to be in place by the start of the next school year, leaving roughly six months from mid-January to get everything ready. The NCAA acknowledged as much in an email to finalists, which was viewed by Sportico. It promised to work with the eventual partners on a realistic schedule for launch.
An NCAA spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.
Starting next fall, college athletes will be able to endorse products, host camps and take payments for autographs, a groundbreaking shift in NCAA policy that’s often referred to as “NIL Rights.” The working proposal, revealed in October and expected to be finalized in January, called for a third-party platform to help the NCAA keep track of those deals.
The NCAA put out a Request For Proposal a few months ago, asking companies to lay out suggestions in three key areas—disclosure (a database to hold details of marketing deals as they come together), education (helping athletes, schools and brands understand the details of what is and isn’t allowed) and enforcement (making sure the complex rules aren’t broken to a student’s or school’s advantage). Some companies submitted proposals for just one of those areas, according to people familiar with the bids, while others proposed options that included all three.
That has led to some confusion about exactly what the NCAA wants in a partner, the people said. In the last few weeks, some finalists proposed other alternatives, including multiple partners, the separation of the three RFP areas into different deals and the creation of a separate entity to serve many of those functions.
College athletes are currently prohibited from profiting off their commercial rights, a restriction that the NCAA has defended vigorously in court as college sports—particularly football and basketball—ballooned into a multi-billion-dollar industry. After a slew of federal lawsuits and a nudge from states like California and Florida, whose legislation could go into effect as early as next summer, the NCAA conceded to major change.