In last month’s blog, I identified the hot topics and issues facing today’s athlete development professionals: Fair Pay for Play Act, Athlete Mental Wellness, Leadership and Social Responsibility, Innovation and Professional Development. In this blog, I offer my thoughts on the Fair Pay for Play Act and implications for student-athlete development professionals.

On September 30th, Governor Gavin Newsom of California signed into law the Fair Pay for Play Act allowing college student-athletes to hire agents to get endorsement deals and receive compensation for their likeness and image. Additional states, including New Jersey and Florida quickly followed passing similar legislation. Several other states are actively considering doing the same.

Although the California legislation does not go into effect until 2023 and there is ongoing discussion by the NCAA regarding how such laws will affect college athletes, it is clear that big changes are on the way. Someone will need to be prepared to manage them. I believe the challenge and opportunity fall squarely into the laps of student-athlete development professionals.

Over the past several years, we’ve witnessed a change in the landscape of college athletics including the increased empowerment of student-athletes. They are demanding (and rightly so) that their voices be heard not only on issues relevant to their physical and mental health but on fair treatment, social justice and compensation. I predict that student-athlete development professionals will be charged with leading the implementation efforts for whatever policies and procedures that are determined by their institution to meet the requirements of the Fair Pay for Play legislation. This presents both challenges and opportunities for these individuals.

The challenges include becoming an influential and integral voice in the decision-making by their athletic department and campus leaders regarding execution of the Fair Pay for Play legislation, managing student-athlete, team, coaches and family relationships, external influencers and NCAA rules, to name a few. The opportunities lie in staffs’ ability to maximize trusting relationships with their student-athletes and position themselves as the go-to people for them, athletics leadership and the university community. Student-athletes will need timely information, guidance, resources and support to help them make important decisions regarding their sports participation. These include how to select an agent, assess sponsorship opportunities and business deals, read contracts and manage school, their sport, family and the media.

An opportunity also exists for student-athlete development professionals to demonstrate their value. Whether through the implementation of existing or new life skills or career development programming, they are perfectly positioned to be the “go-to” individuals for their student-athletes and athletic department. But they need a plan. Begin by evaluating the current education curriculum to ensure that critical topics and skills are included and addressed:

• Financial Education
• Image and Branding
• Relationship Management
• Selecting an Agent
• Media Training
• Conflict Management and Negotiation

With over 25 years of leadership experience in high school, college and professional sports, Hilliard Solutions has proven success assisting educational institutions and sports organizations with helping athletes to maximize their athletic opportunities. We design sport-specific life skills programming, provide customized staff professional development and collaborate with industry leading experts to help athletes, educational institutions and sports organizations achieve mutually-beneficial goals.

If your organization is proactively discussing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the new collegiate sports environment, we’d like to assist you with creating an innovative model for success. Complete a Contact Form for a complimentary consultation. We look forward to sharing our extensive knowledge and expertise with you and welcome your comments below.

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