In a joint interview with WCDQ True Country 106.3 and the Journal Review — Wabash College athletic director Matt Tanney weighed in on a number of topics, including the NCAA’s interim policy on Name, Image, and Likeness and the outlook on fall sports at Wabash.
The NCAA adopted an interim policy last week that now allows collegiate athletes in all three divisions to earn money based on their name, image, and likeness (NIL).
“It’s certainly a significant shift in how intercollegiate athletics at the NCAA level will operate moving forward,” Tanney said. “That said, it’s been a discussion point for months, many months if not years now within the NCAA membership on how this might come together and how this might work.”
Tanney said he is interested to see how athletes take advantage of the opportunity.
“That’s really the story to follow in the coming months and coming years,” he said. “How does this change and impact the soccer athletes at Power 5 programs, swimming and diving athletes. Athletes that you might not think initially would have the environment to succeed relative to name, image, and likeness, but Instagram, Youtube — there are a lot of college athletes out there that have really significant followings and they have a platform. And advertisers and sponsors are going to be really interested in that platform.”
Endorsement deals and sponsorships have started to trickle in across all sports in the last week, and it appears that social media could be the biggest avenue.
At Wabash Tanney said they are still learning the ins and outs of the new ruling, but the college will fully support athletes who choose to profit off their name, imagine, and likeness moving forward.
“We are right now in the early stage of the process, we are very educationally driven on name, image, and likeness,” he said. “And we are making sure our athletes understand what it is, what has changed and how that influences their ability to maneuver in this space. Because it’s new for them too. I’m sure there will be plenty of conversations moving into the summer and into the fall of Wabash athletes that are interested in those things and we welcome those conversations. We want to help our guys be successful in this space.”
While the new rule is inclusive to all NCAA athletes, the high-profile athletes specifically in football and both men’s and women’s basketball are primed to profit the most. The biggest key will be how these athletes like Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, who has unveiled his own merchandise line and signed a deal with Raising Canes will balance new business ventures with academics and sports.
“There really has to be a higher level of conversation with the institution, with the University of Oklahoma, with his coaches, and how he plans to manage and handle that moving forward,” Tanney said. “The academic component, the athletic component is important and this is an element where let’s be clear, these athletes have never had the opportunity to manage in this space before. It really does speak to the point of how significant of a change this is.”
Overall college athletics are trending toward normalcy when fall sports return next month, including football, soccer, and cross country at Wabash.
“It’s an exciting time,” Tanney added. “I think last year, especially in the fall when we weren’t competing it was just particularly challenging. I think our athletes, our coaches, our staff just persevered and did a terrific job operating in that difficult environment. We are certainly gearing up for the fall. The COVID piece is certainly part of the conversation. We are certainly still keeping an eye on things. Keeping an eye on NCAA guidelines, vaccination rates within the community, the campus and those types of things that will certainly inform.”
Tanney says they expect 100% capacity for the football home opener in the brand new Little Giant Stadium against Allegheny on Sep. 18.
“We are absolutely thrilled and I can’t wait to open Little Giant Stadium in mid-September,” he said. “Getting our athletes back and having our students back in the Allen Center and seeing them everyday and having those one-on-one conversations. It’s those types of interactions that I think were absent last year that made it challenging. We are excited for the upcoming year and I know we will have great support from the Crawfordsville community as we always do.”