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  • Writer's pictureJenny Rozelle, Host of Legal Tea

Current Trends - NCAA New Rules/Athlete Estate Planning - Episode 7

Hey there, Legal Tea Listeners –This is your host, Jenny Rozelle. Here we are … with our NEXT episode of Legal Tea! Today’s topic is a current trend … something going on in current time, that is pertinent to my world. So, with that introduction, we are actually talking about how the NCAA now allows college athletes to make money for their, what they call, “name, image, and likeness” … and you know what happens when people make money, they often accumulate money …. BEFORE we dive into how this pertain to my world, let’s chat for a minute about these new NCAA rules.

At the end of June 2021, the NCAA adopted, what’s called, the “name, image, and likeness” policy – what this means, according to a CBS News article on the new rules, is that college athletes will be able to get paid for doing things like autograph signings, endorsements, and doing appearances. In their press release, the NCAA clarified that the new policy does not allow *quote* pay-for-play” – meaning they do not allow for college athletes to get paid for merely playing their respective sport.

When I think of this policy change, I think of big names in college sports – we can all probably think of several examples. THOUGH! Because I’m a Butler University alum and a huge Butler basketball fan (Go Dawgs!), let’s rewind to 2010.

Remember when those Butler Bulldogs made headlines for making their historic run in the NCAA tournament… super long story short, even though I would love to relish in the moment and keep talking about Butler basketball, the Bulldogs made it to THE National Championship, the BIG DANCE in Division 1 college basketball. Ironically enough, the National Championship that year was in Indianapolis, Indiana.

So, the National Championship was little ol’ Butler against powerhouse Coach K’s Duke. Many called it a “David and Goliath” sort of thing – Duke, while they are a small, private school like Butler – they just are really, really good at college basketball like 95% of the time. Coach K – he’s a legend, right. I think he’s retiring after next season, actually.

Anyway, so the game …. The game was close all 4 quarters. It literally came down to the last second. Gordon Hayward, who was a hometown hero hailing from Brownsburg, Indiana, threw up a heave – a last second, would-have-won-the-game shot. It almost went in.

To this day, when they replay the video of Hayward throwing up that shot, it hurts, I tell you! It will forever be … too soon to see that video. So, the miss hits every part of the rim and doesn’t fall in. The Bulldogs lose in heart-breaking fashion. They almost took out THE Duke University. Throughout the season and tournament, Hayward was a name many knew – he was a dang good basketball player. Though, as the team sailed through the tournament and then when he nearly hit the biggest shot in college basketball history, he nearly instantaneously became a, dare I say, … famous name. Famous-ish name.

The kicker? Hayward, an Indiana native, attending a college in Indiana (Butler), and went to the NCAA National Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana – Hayward could have set up shop at any place in Indiana following all of that and had people paying for autographs, for appearances, etc. This is what the rules changed – BEFOREHAND, that was a no-no. Couldn’t get paid for that. Now, college athletes can.

So how does this relate to my world? I’m sure you are thinking that. Well, it’s a stretch – but I have serious concerns about this! Can you imagine college athletes that gain popularity pretty quickly, get famous, etc. If they can do appearances, … think way bigger than Hayward in Indianapolis … think of a HUGE college athlete name doing an appearance on a tv show, a nationally televised game, etc. Some of these college athletes are going to make some serious money – and honestly, good for them!

I actually, shortly after finishing writing the script for this episode, I caught a tweet on Twitter from a Joe Pompliano – whose Twitter bio states he “breaks down the business and money behind sports.” Anyway, Joe shared that according to estimates (which I’m not sure where he pulled from, to be honest) … that Reggie Bush, a former football player – he famously played at USC … got the All-American honors twice … received the Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding player in the nation (all according to the Wikipedia on Bush).

Estimates claim that Bush would have earned somewhere between $4 MILLION and $6 MILLION annually with these new NCAA rules – like that’s a lot of money. At least to me – Ha!

Let’s take Gordon Hayward out of the mix … and now we know what reports are saying about Reggie Bush … Indiana University, commonly referred to as IU around here, just announced that they are updating their internal policies to aid student-athletes in making money based on their “name, image, and likeness.” IU is one of the very first school to officially announce they’re updating their policies. IU won’t be last either – I’m sure. So this conversation is really just getting started, to be honest, but the point of today’s episode is not to talk about “it” – it’s to talk about what I think will be a byproduct of this rule change.

When you start to make good money, sometimes (not always!) you also start to accumulate money – especially if the athlete is surrounded by people and professionals encouraging them to save what they earn. Or heck, save even SOME of what they earn. Something that does not often go hand-in-hand is young people (like Hayward was, like Bush was) and estate planning … goodness, especially college kids. People in that age group just flat don’t think about things like this – I sure did not, so I’m not harping on them about it!

You see, one of my least favorite questions to get asked is: “When should I be thinking of estate planning? How old are most of your clients?” The answers to those questions are different. How old are most of my clients? A heavy majority is 50+ -- though there are some in their 30s-40s that recognize how important it is to do estate planning (especially if you have minor children!). In my ten years at my office, I think I’ve helped 5 or less … KIDS … get some basic documents in place. And those kids are often kids of my “normal” aged clients.

Estate planning is actually a “thing” for anyone above the age of 18 because that is when you are legally considered an adult. Something happens to you – you fall down the stairs after a late night out at the bars? Maybe you get in a car accident? An accident while skiing…whatever, you get the point. Something happens – guess what? Your parents probably no longer have the legal authority to do much because you’re now an adult and the law treats you as such.

So why am I talking about this NCAA rule change? Because I can see what is going to happen – I can see it from a mile away. These college athletes are going to get paid (like I said, rightfully so!), they’re going to likely start to accumulate money, and what if something happens? In all likelihood, someone at some point … something is going to happen. It may not be this year. It may not be next year. But something will happen eventually – and then lawyers are going to have to get involved because they’re going to have to “clean up” the kids’ lack of estate planning.

I, of course, don’t like saying this – it is yucky to think, it is icky to say. But, I think it is realistic. I think it is unrealistic to think that “yucky” things never happen. They do – and they don’t discriminate based on age.

When I was thinking about what I wanted to chat about on this episode of current trends/hot topic, I ran across the update about the NCAA rule change – and I thought “why not talk about this?” … it would be a respectful reminder that people of ALL ages face incapacity and face death – so while most people think of estate planning later in life, let’s not forget about our kids, our grandkids – especially if they end up in a situation where they will end up making money, MORE money, than a normal kiddo. I’m looking at you, college athletes!

Trust me, normal kiddos don’t usually need anything fancy – most of the time, normal kids just probably need like a Health Care Representative (to appoint who they’d want to make health care decisions for them if they’d be unable to do so) and a Power of Attorney (to appoint who they’d want to manage financial affairs for them if they’d be unable to do so – i.e. accessing a bank account!). If, for whatever reason, the kiddo has accumulated money and savings – like maybe a college athlete can do now! – they probably need some more estate planning like a Will or a Trust.

So, what’s our saying around here on Legal Tea? Our hashtag … #DOYOURESTATEPLAN, friends – regardless of your age. Just get it done.


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