The ongoing discussion of name, image and likeness rules for NCAA student-athletes has made significant strides in recent weeks, and West Virginia head football coach Neal Brown is still figuring out what that means for the Mountaineers.
The conversation heated up in September when a “Fair Pay to Play” bill was passed in California, prohibiting institutions from punishing student-athletes for accepting endorsement money. Now, it appears the NCAA will allow them to do it outright, a development which has raised questions for officials and coaches alike.
According to ESPN’s Dan Murphy, the proposed new rules will reportedly allow student-athletes to profit off of modeling apparel and advertisements, as well as hire an agent to facilitate those ventures as long as they don’t reference their institutions and the advertised products don’t conflict with NCAA legislation (“such as gambling operations or banned substances.”).
“Honestly, [I’m] still learning,” Brown said. “…You could kind of feel the momentum growing and just conversations with [Athletic Director] Shane [Lyons] and just people in the profession….so what we did is we tried to get in front of that.”
Brown says the program has partnered with “an individual” who will help educate both him and his team on what this means for their team. That individual will be announced at a later date.
“It’s about education, and kind of educating our players on how to kind of take advantage of that,” he said. “How to create a brand, what’s a brand look like, those types of things.”
As the talks get more and more serious, it is important to note that they have still not been officially implemented — but if (or when) they are, Brown says he sees this could be beneficial for the Mountaineer football program.
“I do think there are some potential benefits in West Virginia, just because we don’t have any professional sport competition and we’re the only Power Five team,” he said. “So I do think there are some things that we can use, I do think there are some things that are marketable, that our players are marketable.”
However, just because the opportunity to profit is there, Brown doesn’t believe that all Mountaineers will get to cash in equally.
“I don’t think this is going to be a windfall for everybody on our roster or everybody on the basketball team, I don’t see that happening,” he said. “But I’m just kind of learning as we go on it.”