NAIA makes decision to compensate athletes for the name, image or likeness


Skylar Grinnell

Senior Carson Fitzgerald, Senior Deven Peters, and Junior Will Cox are members of the Baker eSports Team. They are among the many NAIA athletes that will be able to use their name, image and likeness under the new rule change.

Last week, the NAIA finalized a landmark decision regarding their student-athletes. The NAIA announced they will now allow student-athletes the opportunity to be compensated for their name, image or likeness. 

The substantial decision is the first of any variety regarding compensation for athletes to benefit from themselves or their teams. The decision comes at a time in which the NCAA has wrestled with this decision for years. A possible breakthrough could lead to collegiate athletes finally getting their financial compensation. 

The areas at Baker that could see the biggest impacts could be in particular sports such as Esports, soccer, tennis, golf and football. 

Baker University Head Baseball Coach Ryan Goodwin talked about the potential changes we might see regarding certain athletes.

“I think the sports that benefit the most are sports such as soccer who have a high number of international players,” Goodwin said. Goodwin mentioned that more individual sports could see more benefits. “Sports like tennis or golf could see a bump in scholarship money. They also have a chance to benefit more as an individual athlete,” Goodwin said. 

Goodwin believes the NAIA hasn’t ever stepped in the way for compensation.

“I don’t believe the NAIA was ever stopping someone from making money the way the NCAA does.”

The decision by the NAIA states that it “allows a student-athlete to receive compensation for promoting any commercial product, enterprise or for any public or media appearance.” 

This decision could have a major impact on Esports as well. With the video game industry booming, it allows for these student-athletes to make money like professionals.

Junior Chance Prosser talked about the potential this allows for the Esports team here at Baker.

“With Esports, I think it was said that if we win any tournament that offers a prize, the prize can go to the members of the team, whether it’s gear giveaway or money.”

Even with a great deal of Baker’s Esports competition being outside of the NAIA, it can allow for the athletes to potentially be compensated for wins. This could provide a potentially huge opportunity for Esports when recruiting members to join the team. 

The football program has been one of the more dominant programs over the past few years here at Baker. Junior defensive back BJ Harvey spoke on how this decision could impact individuals and the program as a whole.

“I believe it could be an easier way to seek out deals on equipment and it could put a bigger name behind the Baker brand without being restricted,” Harvey said. 

Harvey also believes it could lead to more exposure.

“It could have a big impact on our team and exposure for our team on a national level. Our games on ESPN could allow for some of us to be compensated even,” Harvey said.   

Harvey went on to talk about the personal impact the decision has.

“I think it’s kind of cool for me personally because it could serve as a source of income for some poor college students,” Harvey said. 

The NAIA’s decision serves as a progressive one compared to the NCAA, who has yet to reach this level. 

This decision could be instrumental for student-athletes on all levels in the near future. Only time will tell how NAIA athletes take advantage of this decision.