Why new NIL rules could attract bigger names to college athletics

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 3:47 PM EST
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - If you’re a fan of college hockey, you could be seeing some bigger names play in college arenas in the coming years. That’s because the NCAA’s new name, image, and likeness rules could attract bigger talent.

The hockey players you see on the ice at Clarkson University choose to be there. They were recruited by the Clarkson hockey coaching staff and chose Clarkson over other schools. Men’s players have an added choice - they can professionalize themselves as young as 16-years-old by playing Major Junior hockey, which is mostly played in Canada. Those players make a salary – usually a small one - and can brand themselves. That has created a recruiting battle.

“We’re in competition with Major Junior non-stop,” said Casey Jones, Clarkson men’s hockey head coach.

Players in Major Junior hockey lose their college eligibility since they’re considered professionals. But, the lines between professional and amateur have been blurred, now that the NCAA allows its athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness.

“Now you add into this, it’s just another way for us, I think, to open up markets and maybe present it – more appealing for a few more guys,” said Jones.

The players agree. They say the new NIL rules could be the selling point for kids that are on the fence between college hockey and Major Junior.

“Yeah, it’s money. I mean you get – that’s eye candy for sure. You got big-name guys who would go to major junior, but now they can make some money in the NCAA,” said Luke Mobley, Clarkson men’s hockey player.

“And I think it would even improve, you know, the play of college hockey as well if you get more of those top-end guys, especially from Canada,” said Ethan Haider, Clarkson men’s hockey player.

As for the future of the NIL, the players think we’ll start to see a lot more deals in the coming years. Caitrin Lonergan of the Clarkson women’s hockey team thinks it could put the women’s game on the map.

“If, like, women are advertised on big companies, say like Gatorade or Under Armour, I think it can promote women’s hockey and show people that maybe follow those companies what these women are doing,” she said.

The NCAA is steering into uncharted waters with the new NIL rules. There’s no playbook and there are a lot of possibilities for student athletes.

Even Jones admits it’s hard to know exactly what the landscape will look like in the future. He said we’ll have to do this story again in a few years to see how everything has changed.

See Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

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