Why Indiana Is The Wild West When It Comes To The NCAA NIL Policy

Posted on July 1, 2021

College athletes can finally benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL).

The NCAA’s new NIL policy went into effect on July 1, which opens the door for students to profit off of their athletic achievements.

With the policy in place, NCAA athletes can do anything that falls within the scope of their state’s NIL laws.

The only problem is, Indiana doesn’t have any. Despite NCAA headquarters residing in Indianapolis, the state has nothing in place to regulate the new NIL policy.

Indiana lags behind rest of Big Ten

Most of the states with Big Ten schools were at least working on NIL bills leading up to July 1. Indiana was not one of them.

The Hoosier State doesn’t have any NIL law on the books, and no one has even introduced a bill yet.

In other words, the Indiana General Assembly hasn’t considered making changes.

Indiana and Wisconsin are the only two Big Ten states that haven’t started the process of working on an NIL law.

Indiana is the Wild West of NCAA NIL policy

Since there’s no state law saying otherwise, college athletes in Indiana can profit from their likeness as long as it fits under the NCAA’s policies.

If Indiana passes an NIL law in the future, it could regulate things further. So at least for the time being, Indiana is the Wild West.

IU just announced a new policy to help guide its athletes through these uncharted waters.

“Dating back to the creation of the IU Athletics NIL Task Force last August, our department has been laser-focused on being at the forefront when it comes to preparing for and supporting our students NIL opportunities when this day arrived,” said Scott Dolson, IU vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics.

As of this morning, you can book IU quarterback Michael Penix for $500 an hour. Some IU basketball players like Xavier Johnson are looking for opportunities of their own.

Other schools around the state will likely create their own programs to help student athletes make the most of the NCAA’s new NIL policy.

Sports betting bans vs. Indiana NIL

At least for now, athletes at Indiana colleges can use their NIL to partner with gambling companies. There’s no law expressively forbidding it, so athletes have the green light under the NCAA’s rules.

However, athletes at Purdue and Butler will have to tread lightly.

Both schools have strange sports betting bans that forbid athletes, faculty, and students from betting on university sporting events. That could make things tricky for athletes looking to partner with Indiana online sportsbooks.

For example, if a Purdue basketball player signed a partnership with DraftKings Indiana, it would likely be for the sake of trying to draw in more Purdue bets at the sportsbook.

Since Boilermakers can’t insinuate that they’re betting on Purdue athletics, an ad that’s using their likeness to try attract Purdue bettors could cause trouble.

Purdue’s and Butler’s betting bans seek to ensure the integrity of sporting events at both schools.

However, neither policy was created with NIL in mind, which creates a sticky situation for athletes looking to capitalize on the policy without ending up on their school’s bad side.

Students and athletes that violate the sports betting bans at either school could face expulsion.

Up until now, the bans have been completely unenforceable. There’s no way to catch and punish a Butler student for betting on one of the school’s basketball games from their phone.

A Butler athlete’s face on a poster that says “bet on the Bulldogs at FanDuel,” however, could land that athlete in hot water. It’s a lot more visible compared to a normal student betting from the comfort of their home.

The entire mess of a situation is one that the Indiana legislature might have to resolve.

Athletes at both schools might avoid gambling deals for now just to stay away from any potential problems.

How will Indiana lawmakers react to NIL?

In the meantime, Indiana lawmakers could take things into their own hands. It all comes down to what the Hoosier State’s future NIL laws will look like.

Some states like Illinois specifically ban college athletes from partnering with gambling companies like online sportsbooks. Indiana lawmakers may decide to go that route as well.

Until there’s some sort of statewide ruling, athletes at schools like Notre Dame that don’t have sports betting bans might start seeking out gambling-related deals as soon as possible.

Don’t be surprised if the Fighting Irish make an appearance at local gambling spots like the future sportsbook at Four Winds Casino.

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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a sports writer based in Indianapolis, IN. He's an Indiana University graduate who's spent time as a sports reporter covering teams at the prep, collegiate and professional levels.

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