LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Thursday is a landmark day in college sports. It’s the day college athletes can start making money off their name, image and likeness, or NIL.
It's not an overstatement to say this new policy from the National Collegiate Athletic Association could reshape college sports forever. It's why UNLV started the "Vegas Effect Program," a new three-part and education-based platform providing Rebel student-athletes with the tools and resources they need to profit off the new NCAA policy.
"If a non-athlete student can benefit from their name, image and likeness, it's wonderful that our student-athletes can do the same now," said Desiree Reed-Francois, UNLV's athletic director.
"It was important for us to be very communicative with our student-athletes," she said. "Listen to where the space is that they wanted to be in, create educational opportunities and training opportunities."
"When you're creating a business, which is what our student-athletes are doing now, there's a lot that is part of the learning process," said Reed-Francois.
From autographs, appearances, and endorsements to tax laws and international visas, the university wants its athletes to know exactly what is and isn't allowed under the new rules.
"We want to protect our student-athletes, that's why we want to educate them. So we're going to make sure they have all the information to equip them to make the necessary decisions as they get opportunities presented to them," said Eric Nepomuceno, the senior associate athletic director for compliance at UNLV.
The first step for Rebel student-athletes is registering with NOCAP Sports, a third-party platform bridging the gap between athletes, agents, brands and fans.
"They [NOCAP] provide the education in different niche pockets, whether it's tax, or financial literacy or international issues," said Nepomuceno.
"They also do contract reviews, they'll help us with agent registrations," added Nepomuceno. "They've already partnered with several professional athletes. And we think that they're going to be a difference-maker with respect to the name image and likeness landscape."
Under the new NCAA policy, student-athletes now have the opportunity to build their own empire.
"And not all student-athletes will choose to do so. Some may say, 'Hey, I've got enough going on my plate. I'm a full-time student, I have an internship, I have my sport, I've got enough going,'" said Reed-Francois.
"But if they desire to go ahead and create that brand or to work on their name, image and likeness, then they have that option. So I see this as a great step forward," she continued.
It's worth noting, not everyone agrees with the new laws allowing college athletes to make money. Assemblywoman Robin Titus was one of eight members of the Nevada Assembly to vote against a similar state law that recently passed.
She issued a statement that reads:
“We should keep college sports about the game, camaraderie, and sportsmanship - not money. Almost all college athletes will never be paid to play professional sports and we should focus on preparing them for a successful career."