Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The NCAA is one step closer to allowing student athletes to earn compensation for their name, image and likeness, with a new proposal expected to be approved in January.

Details: Once approved, the bylaw would be implemented ahead of the 2021-22 school year.

  • Four ways to earn: Student athletes would be able to conduct private lessons or camps, endorse products, sell autographs and crowdfund for things like charities and family emergencies.
  • Restrictions: School logos must be absent from any of the above and athletes can't endorse products that conflict with existing school sponsorships or NCAA legislation (i.e. banned substances, gambling).
  • Oversight: There will be a third-party platform for disclosure and approval of all NIL activities.

The state of play: Though this proposal will likely pass, certain state and federal laws are also in play that would supersede anything enacted by the NCAA.

  • State: Five states have passed NIL bills, but only Florida's will take effect in 2021.
  • Federal: A few bills have been introduced in Congress, but none as promising as last month's bipartisan effort co-authored by former Ohio State WR Rep/ Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

Between the lines: The NCAA asked Congress for help on this front to avoid the chaos of each state having different rules, but that doesn't mean their legislation will comply with every NCAA request.

  • In fact, the aforementioned bipartisan bill would allow athletes to promote products that conflict with their schools' active endorsements and wouldn't cap their earning potential — two provisions the NCAA disagrees with.

The big picture: Various companies have sprung up in recent years with an eye toward preparing student athletes to monetize their personal brands once NIL took effect.

  • Take INFLCR, a social media management platform founded in 2017 with the belief that NIL was inevitable.
  • They work with over 27,000 student-athletes and recently launched an NIL-specific product aimed at optimizing athletes' social footprint and giving coaches the tools to meet this younger generation where they are — online.
"As a company, we're thrilled about the fact that there's been so much acceleration on this over the past 12 months. We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel."
— Neeta Sreekanth, COO of INFLCR

The bottom line: NIL is like a race car stuck in neutral, with the NCAA, legislators, companies, schools and student athletes all revving their engines ahead of the soon-to-be-waved green flag.

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