In terms of NIL benefits, the decidedly red state of Missouri is suddenly one of the most liberal spots in the collegiate landscape. The Show-Me State — made up of sweeping plains, fertile farmland and a conservative salt-of-the-earth ethic — lately might as well be the saucy equivalent of an all-night Miami Beach rager.
It’s B.Y.O.B. — Bring Your Own (NIL) Benefits.
Missouri House Bill 417, passed last week, nudged NIL right up to the edge of “pay for play.” It is not the first bill to push NIL boundaries, but it the latest and it is significant adding Missouri to a long list of states challenging the NCAA’s authority in the NIL space.
Per the bill, school officials — including coaches — can join talks with athletes about prospective NIL deals. Furthermore, in-state high school prospects have become immediately eligible for NIL benefits if they sign with an in-state school. Using the early February football signing day as a starting point, those players could be getting paid for six months before suiting up for their first college practice.
If that sounds like an inducement to attend, say, the University of Missouri … you are not alone in thinking as much. The state’s only Power Five program resides in the nation’s most powerful conference (SEC). University officials and coaches showed up in the state capital earlier this month to celebrate as legislators cast their votes on HB 417.
One of the bill’s main sponsors, state representative Kurtis Gregory (R) has already heard the growing conversation — sometimes bordering on outrage — regarding that inducement piece.
“Tell me how that is any different than also being told as a recruit, ‘You’re going to get a nice, new facility in Year 2,'” said Gregory, a former Tigers offensive lineman. “It’s no different than being promised potential early playing time or new facilities or new gear. Everything about trying to get a commitment is an inducement.”
Missouri is not alone in the rapidly changing NIL legislative landscape. The state’s bill is similar to laws either proposed or passed in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, New York and Arkansas — all of which challenge the NCAA’s authority.
Missouri took the significant extra step by forbidding an “athletic association” (basically, the NCAA) from investigating schools over perceived NIL violations. Athletes cannot be penalized by the NCAA for “receiving NIL compensation.”