New NCAA Rules Offer Opportunity For St. Louis-Area College Athletes
College athletes can now make a brand — and a buck — as the NCAA loosens restrictions governing their use of their name, image and likeness.
St. Charles native Drake Heismeyer is one of a growing number of athletes capitalizing on the new opportunity. In an attempt to earn money while helping local businesses, the Mizzou offensive lineman shares his experiences at local restaurants on social media through his brand #69eatslocal. The eateries pay him, or trade food, for the exposure.
A must stop when I go home is at Barrel’s Taphouse to see my friends Anne & Jimmy and grab a Mizzou Melt. #69EatsLocal pic.twitter.com/eZQMJ0KGXg— Drake Heismeyer (@DHeismeyer77) July 1, 2021
“A lot of these local restaurants were impacted because [of] COVID,” Heismeyer said. “I thought maybe I could help them out, and they can maybe help me out, and we both get something in return.”
By creating his own brand, Heismeyer said, he can reign over his narrative.
“I have control over things,” he explained. “I can put out what I want [and have] people see how I want to be looked at.”
Earlier this year, Missouri became the 27th state to pass legislation allowing athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. The legislation goes into effect Aug. 28.
Those changes on the state level (along with an adverse Supreme Court ruling) led the NCAA to ease up on longtime restrictions barring college athletes from profiting off their name, image or likeness. While awaiting a new national law from Congress, the governing body passed interim regulations suspending the old rules for all current and incoming athletes.
“There are legitimately over 100 different sets of rules, policies or laws that [the NCAA] would have to interact with, and they're not going to be able to do that,” said Kameron Cox, INFLUENCE program coordinator for the University of Illinois. “They're going to have to wait until there's one scheme that can supersede all those things, which is going to be federal legislation.”
The NCAA holds that student athletes should follow state law when applicable, and report their activities to their school. But even athletes without a state law in place may now profit from their name, image and likeness, according to the new interim policy.
“We kind of are in a bit of what some people have termed to be the wild, wild West,” Cox said.
Cox’s job entails advising athletes, families and businesses about how they can maximize opportunities for an entrepreneurial future. He sees it as a new kind of real-world education that can help athletes in the long run.
“Instead of considering something four or five years from now, [athletes are] thinking about how I'm going to build a brand, how I'm going to promote myself. ‘I'm learning about how to pay taxes; I'm learning about how to set up a bank account,’ right? Instead of doing that after you graduate,” he said, “we're giving you an opportunity [to] start working on those things and thinking about those things as soon as you get to campus.”
He believes the new changes will help far more than just athletes on their way to professional sports stardom.
“There was this belief that it would only benefit football and basketball, but that's shown itself to be a misconception,” Cox explained on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air. “I think that the narrative should be shifted a little bit, and it should be seen as an opportunity for all and not just a select few.”
His hope is that athletes will not only learn from this new opportunity, but also create brands they can be proud of decades later.
“You really want to be deliberate about what brands you partner with, because making $1,000 at 20 might seem great,” he said. “[But] you may look back at 30 and say, ‘Oh gee, I really wish I hadn't affiliated myself with that brand.’”
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted bySarah Fenskeand produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphilland Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.