AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The NCAA waited nearly a year to issue a warning that now college athletes can make money and still need to play by the rules Their reputation faded, sparking speculation that there could be a crackdown on the schools and boosters that destroyed them.
But the NCAA isn’t the only law enforcement agency remaining silent as millions of dollars begin to fly around college athletes.
Nearly half of the states, 24 states in total, have laws on compensation for athletes, All this has passed since 2019. Some specifically banned the kind of pay-to-play and recruiting-bait deals that the NCAA still bans and that critics of the new system fear.
However, these states have shown no willingness to question or investigate the schools, their contracts, or the third-party groups that orchestrate them. Even if they did, there is little legal framework for how they would do it.
Texas and Florida, two states with major college football and basketball programs, prohibit fee-paying contracts and use deals to lure recruits to campus. However, neither state has a mechanism in place to investigate or punish schools, organizations or agents found to be in violation.
“A lot of people think the NCAA didn’t act, but it’s the same for the states,” said Darren Heitner, an attorney who helped craft Florida’s law.
Unenforced state bans on pay-to-play and recruiting deals have calmed lawmakers concerned that their favorite college sport is changing, said Heitner, who advocates for athletes’ rights to earn money. But there is no indication that state attorneys general or district attorneys will go after a large university, coaches and wealthy donors if teams bring in top players and win.
Alabama is one state that does have specific penalties in its laws: Anyone who provides compensation to an athlete that disqualifies them faces a potential Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
But Alabama lawmakers repealed the state’s entire college-athlete compensation law earlier this year. The law’s original author called for its repeal because he feared it would put Alabama schools at a disadvantage in admissions compared with rival schools in other states that don’t have similar restrictions.
Arkansas Gives Athletes Some Legal Powers in that state. They could sue their brokers or other third parties who offered or made deals that were later deemed improper, and they were declared ineligible to compete.
Half of the states have no athlete compensation laws.Schools there are only navigable General parameters provided by the NCAA in June 2021 On the eve of the NIL era, wait and see what will execute. The NCAA said at the time that pay-to-play and “perverse inducements” remained off the table, but details were sparse, and hundreds of people made zero deals in the weeks that followed.
NCAA finally returns to law enforcement role under new guidance This attempts to clarify the types of contracts and booster engagements that should be considered inappropriate.
Few expected a large-scale crackdown, and the I-level council noted that its focus was on the future.Too many athletes, too many contracts NCAA Enforcement Check them out.
“Enforcement will fall on the NCAA,[but]there’s no way they’re trying to look at thousands of transactions,” said Mitt Winter, a sports law attorney in Kansas City, Missouri.
The NCAA will be more likely to focus on some of the highly publicized deals established through well-known business owners and third-party collectives Has appeared in dozens of schools to pool millions of dollars and connect athletes to business deals.
“It’s positioned so that it has no choice but to try to set an example from the booster or the collective,” Heitner said. “Otherwise, what’s the point? … If it doesn’t, it’s powerless and outdated. It still has a problem, and it knows it’s going to be prosecuted.”
NCAA officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In Texas, the nonprofit Horns With Heart drew attention when it announced a $50,000 NIL deal for all Longhorns Scholarship offensive linebackers to support charities ahead of Football National Signing Day in December. Days later, Texas signed one of the top recruiting classes in the country with a slew of blue-chip offensive linebackers.
Horns With Heart co-founder Rob Blair shrugged off the NCAA’s warning, saying the nonprofit has followed the rules since its inception.
“We realized at the beginning of the NIL era that this Wild West attitude would eventually bring us to moments like this, and that’s why we started to be different,” Blair said in an email. “We have gone above and beyond to ensure that we not only adhere to the letter of the NIL regulations, but we believe we also represent the spirit in which the NIL laws were originally written.”
In addition to NCAA law enforcement officers, university compliance directors — long overseers of athletes and their qualifications — are trying to navigate the changing landscape with vague rules.
Lyla Clerry, Iowa’s senior associate director of athletic compliance, welcomes the NCAA’s reworked guidance on athlete endorsement contracts if it means they will be enforced.
“Honestly, I don’t quite believe I’m going to see this happen,” Clary said, noting that last year was “frustrating” for compliance officers.
“You don’t really know, well, what are we supposed to enforce because what is the NCAA going to enforce? So we can’t keep banging our heads trying to enforce things that aren’t enforced across the country,” Clay said. said. “I don’t know if I’d say it’s operating blindly, but we’re definitely in the dark.”
Associated Press sports writer Eric Olsen contributed to this report.
More AP Sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports