With six states’ laws going into effect on July 1, Ed McLaughlin, VCU’s vice president and director of athletics, took a few minutes to discuss college athletes profiting off their names, images and likenesses.
Question: With NIL still lacking state, federal or NCAA guidelines, how is VCU going about preparing for this to go into effect?
Answer: We’ve worked with the governor’s office and the secretary of education and some legislators on trying to find a solution. We’re working on that now. But July 1 is coming up here, so we want to make sure any of our student athletes, current or a recruitable student-athlete, aren’t put at a disadvantage.
I just think given all the things that Congress has to address right now in terms of infrastructure bills and all that, I don’t know if image and likeness for college student athletes is right on the top of their agenda of the needs of our country right now, but it’s certainly an important issue to our industry and something we need to address and really expedite because it’s been too long, and the student athletes deserve to have this opportunity.
Question: UVA AD Carla Williams sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam asking for help on this, and other Virginia schools signed. Was VCU part of this?
Answer: Carla and I have sort of taken the lead on that as far as ADs go and our presidents have really taken the lead on it. They’ve done a great job in working with us on this.
We’re trying to work with the governor’s office and they’ve been great, and also with some of our legislators to make something more permanent as it goes forward as well.
It’s one of those things that we in Virginia shouldn’t have to do that because it should be something that’s across the entire country, but we’ll make sure that we do everything we need to do so student-athletes in Virginia are not only protected but empowered.
Question: What concerns have your coaches expressed to you?
Answer: I don’t think coaches are so worried about the concepts of it. We all want to make sure that it doesn’t get into a situation where people are just finding an avenue to pay recruits like they’re doing illegally now.... Obviously we’ve heard plenty of stories, through the FBI probe or otherwise, that are alleged to be paying student athletes in return for the students to attend school there.
We don’t want that, nor do we want any model where the schools are directly paying student athletes above board, because that’s pro sports, and none of us want to be involved with that. But I do think our coaches’ reservations, right now, are: We don’t want to be left behind. We don’t want our student-athletes to not be able to take advantage of this in something they should be able to take advantage of.
Question: What about students appearing in ads for gambling or other similar businesses?
Answer: We’re going to have compliance folks, obviously, working on that to make sure that the student athletes don’t get themselves into any situations that will be affecting their eligibility. Then we’ll have education as well to make sure the student athletes don’t get into any type of relationships where it’s predatory and some business or entity takes advantage of them.
I think what you’ll see more so for the normal student athlete, you’re going to make name, image and likeness money on things that are closer to home, like social media, YouTube channels, and jersey sales, things like that.
[We want to have compliance] so that they’re doing everything that they need to do, and also educate them so they can understand what their value is.