The NCAA office sent a memo to member institutions on Tuesday in which the organization clarified its name, image and likeness policy, according to multiple reports. The updated explanation urges schools to follow the NIL rules set forth by the NCAA in lieu of the more lenient guidelines recently passed by several state legislatures across the country.
So far, 32 states have adopted their own versions of NIL regulation for public education institutions, with many containing language that bars the NCAA from enforcing its own NIL policy. The NCAA's memo states that since membership in the organization is voluntary, state laws are irrelevant when they conflict with membership guidelines.
Additionally, the memo reiterates that boosters may not have direct contact with recruits during the recruiting process to discuss potential NIL opportunities as a recruiting inducement.
"The Association has been clear and maintains that schools must adhere to NCAA legislation (or policy) when it conflicts with permissive state laws," the memo reads. "In other words, if a state law permits certain institutional action and NCAA legislation prohibits the same action, institutions must follow NCAA legislation."
Many member institutions have used the power vacuum to push the envelope on NIL endeavors. Notably, Texas A&M's primary booster organization announced a fundraising effort called the 12th Man+ Fund, which is built to raise NIL dollars using the fundraising arm of the university. The campaign is in direct conflict with NCAA guidelines, which prohibit universities from engaging in fundraising for NIL purposes. Additionally, the intertwining of NIL fundraising with university fundraising allows boosters to receive athletic department benefits, which is expressly prohibited in NCAA rules.
Despite the seemingly textbook violation, the NCAA has not acted on the 12th Man+ Fund more than four months after its creation. Texas House Bill 2804, which will go into effect on July 1, prevents the NCAA from levying punishments against Texas A&M for breaking NIL rules. Without question, NCAA enforcement of rules against Texas A&M's collective would trigger lawsuits.
Texas A&M is far from the only school benefitting from the grey area. Miami booster John Ruiz has signed numerous deals with Hurricanes athletes across multiple sports. Rather than attempt to target the NIL deals, the NCAAon a technicality, handing down a fine and probation to Miami women's basketball because an assistant coach helped connect twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder to Ruiz.
The NCAA's punishment of the Cavinder Twins and Miami basketball remains the only public enforcement the organization has taken on NIL.