Everything you need to know about the NCAA's NIL debate

College sports is in the midst of its most significant changes in a generation. A mixture of new state laws and NCAA rules changes that went into effect on July 1 have provided athletes with varying degrees of new protections and opportunities to make money by selling their name, image and likeness (NIL) rights.

While athletes start to strike deals this summer, questions remain about the short- and long-term implications of a major shift in amateurism rules. Who will shape the large gray areas produced by the novel, loose guidelines. Will Congress provide a uniform federal law to simplify and clarify? As politicians, schools, athletes and the parties interested in paying them sort through this brand new marketplace, the space below will remain dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date information on that process.

Jump to a section: Calendar | Timeline | Legislation | The start

The Latest

When Georgia Tech's football players head to a hotel this weekend on the eve of their first game of the season, some of them will be packing a new set of silk TiVo-branded pajamas. The new era of name, image and likeness (NIL) deals in college sports never sleeps.

The swanky PJs are part of what Yellow Jackets players received in exchange for agreeing to promote TiVo on social media this month. They also got a prepaid debit card worth $404 (Atlanta's area code is 404) and the company's 4k streaming device. As part of the partnership, which was facilitated by Georgia Tech's athletic department, TiVo provided the school an upgrade to its audio/visual equipment in some of the team facilities. The total value is more than $100,000, according to the TiVo Chief Revenue Officer Matt Milne, who said 90 of the team's players have signed a contract for the endorsement.

"This is the beginning of what we're going to do in this space," Milne told ESPN this week. "We like this program and what it stands for."

Georgia Tech helped organize the endorsement deals and present it to the players, which is the latest example of a school taking an active role in trying to create specific opportunities for athletes to cash in on new NIL rules. Earlier in August, BYU's program made headlines when a corporate sponsor struck a team-wide deal that, in part, could cover the cost of tuition for its walk-on football players. Big brand schools such as Alabama, Ohio State, Texas and North Carolina have all recently signed on to work with a company called Brandr that organizes group licensing opportunities for athletes at those schools.

In the lead-up to the landmark changes that are now allowing all college athletes to profit from their fame, NCAA stakeholders attempted to strictly limit the involvement schools and their employees could have in arranging endorsements for their athletes. Many didn't even want athletes to be able to use their school's logos or copyright marks because that would create a situation where school and athlete were partners in a contract where both were making money. They feared that athletic departments might reach the point where they were pre-packaging enough deals for their star athletes that those endorsements would in effect be salaries arranged by the school but paid by a third party.

The current regulations -- shaped in part by antitrust concerns in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision -- are far less restrictive. The NCAA rules only prohibit a school or its employees from paying an athlete directly for his or her NIL rights. Some states have laws in place that say athletic departments and their employees may not "cause compensation to be directed" to athletes, but the specifics of what is and is not allowed remain murky.

While many in college sports have treaded lightly thus far while learning to navigate what is an uncomfortable and unusual amount of room for interpretation compared to the rest of the NCAA bylaws, that hasn't stopped the forces of a competitive market from driving the schools themselves to get involved.

Calendar: What comes next

Congress plans to continue discussing federal college sports reform in the future. While no exact dates have been determined yet, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez has asked the House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold a hearing on his proposed NIL bill.

Timeline: How we got here

Sept. 30, 2019: California passes legislation introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner that will, starting in 2023, prohibit schools from punishing athletes who accept endorsement money while in college. The NCAA called the legislation an "existential threat" to college amateur sports when it was introduced months earlier.

Oct. 29, 2019: The NCAA's board of governors agrees unanimously that it is time to modernize its name, image and likeness rules. The board directs all three NCAA divisions to make rules by January 2021 that allow athletes to make endorsement money while maintaining "the collegiate model."

April 29, 2020: A working group appointed by the NCAA lays out its suggestions for how Division I should change its rules, including details about the opportunities and restrictions for future athlete deals. The Division I Council formally submitted these proposed changes in November 2020 with plans to put them to a vote in January 2021.

June 12, 2020: Florida passes its state law with a scheduled effective date of July 1, 2021, that significantly decreases the time to create a uniform national solution.

July 22, 2020: Emmert, the NCAA president, repeats a request for congressional help in creating a federal NIL law while appearing at a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C. Several senators urged Emmert and the NCAA to broaden the scope of their reform efforts if they wanted help from Capitol Hill.

Aug. 2, 2020: A group of Pac-12 football players threatens to boycott the season while sharing a list of demands that included giving players a share of athletic department revenue. A similar group of national stars formed a week later and stated its intent to form a college football players' association in the future.

Sept. 24, 2020: Reps. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., introduce a federal bill that would allow for NIL deals with some restrictions in hopes of keeping endorsements from disrupting the recruiting process.

Dec. 10, 2020: Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., introduces federal legislation that would allow for some NIL deals and also create an antitrust exemption that would protect the NCAA from some types of future lawsuits.

Dec. 16, 2020: The Supreme Court agreed to hear the NCAA's appeal of a federal judge's ruling in the Alston v. NCAA antitrust lawsuit. While not directly related to NIL rules, the Supreme Court's decision in this case could impact how much control the NCAA has in defining amateurism in the future.

Dec. 17, 2020: Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduce legislation calling for a wide-reaching overhaul of NCAA rules and college sports governance.

Jan. 11, 2021: The NCAA's Division 1 Council decides to indefinitely delay its vote on name, image and likeness rules, citing concerns prompted by a letter from the Department of Justice related to the possible antitrust implications of changing its rules. Emmert, the NCAA president, said he was "frustrated and disappointed" by the delay.

Feb. 4, 2021: Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., introduce federal legislation that would create a completely unrestricted market for college athlete endorsement deals.

March 31, 2021: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Alston v. NCAA antitrust lawsuit.

April 1, 2021: NCAA president Mark Emmert met with three men's basketball players trying to raise awareness -- using the hashtag #NotNCAAProperty -- for what they see as unfair treatment of college athletes. The players asked the NCAA to adopt a temporary blanket waiver that would allow all athletes to make money from endorsement deals next school year while more permanent decisions take shape.

June 18, 2021: Six conference heads (including the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 leaders) propose a new plan that would make individual schools responsible for creating their own NIL policies. The new proposal surfaced after a pair of Senate hearings in June made it clear that a federal law was not imminent.

June 21, 2020: The Supreme Court rules against the NCAA in its appeal, issuing an opinion that dealt a significant blow to the organization's argument that it should receive special antitrust treatment because of its academic mission. The justice's ruling made it clear that NCAA restrictions -- including on NIL activity -- could face serious legal challenges in the future.

June 30, 2021: The NCAA's Board of Directors adopts a temporary rule change that opens the door for NIL activity, instructing schools to set their own policy for what should be allowed with minimal guidelines

July 1, 2021: The first batch of state laws, and the NCAA's new rules, go into effect. Athletes start signing endorsements deals minutes after the clock strikes midnight.


The NCAA has asked Congress for help in creating a federal NIL law. While several federal options have been proposed, it's becoming increasingly likely that state laws will start to go into effect before a nationwide change is made. There are 28 states with NIL laws already in place and multiple others that are actively pursuing legislation.

States with laws in place
Alabama -- Passed: April 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Arizona -- Passed: March 2021. Goes into effect: July 23, 2021.
Arkansas - Passed: April 2021. Goes into effect: Jan. 1, 2022.
California -- Passed: September 2019. Goes into effect: Jan. 1, 2023.
Colorado -- Passed: March 2020. Goes into effect: Jan. 1, 2023.
Connecticut -- Passed: June 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Florida -- Passed: June 2020. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Georgia -- Passed: May 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Illinois -- Passed: June 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Kentucky -- Passed: June 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Louisiana -- Passed: July 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Maryland -- Passed: May 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2023.
Michigan -- Passed: December 2020. Goes into effect: Dec. 31, 2022.
Mississippi -- Passed: April 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Missouri -- Passed: July 2021. Goes into effect: Aug. 28, 2021.
Montana -- Passed: April 2021. Goes into effect: June 1, 2023.
Nebraska -- Passed: July 2020. Goes into effect: No later than July 1, 2023 (schools can implement new policy at any time).
Nevada -- Passed: June 2021. Goes into effect: Jan. 1, 2022.
New Jersey -- Passed: September 2020. Goes into effect: September 2025.
New Mexico -- Passed: April 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
North Carolina -- Signed: July 2021. Goes into effect: July 2, 2021.
Ohio -- Signed: June 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Oklahoma -- Passed: May 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2023 (schools can implement new policy at any time).
Oregon -- Passed: June 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2021.
Pennsylvania -- Passed: June 2021. Goes into effect: June 30, 2021.
South Carolina -- Passed: May 2021. Goes into effect: July 1, 2022.
Tennessee -- Passed: May 2021. Effective date: Jan. 1, 2022.
Texas -- Passed: June 2021. Effective date: July 1, 2021.

States with bills in legislative process
There are still some states with bills actively moving through the legislative process: Massachusetts (2022), New York (2021), Rhode Island (2022).

Where it all started

The 'Fair Pay to Play Act' explained

Dan Murphy explains the landmark "Fair Pay to Play Act," which would allow financial compensation for collegiate athletes in California.