Texas A&M Football: Texas NIL Bill Handcuffs NCAA?

Sep 30, 2017; College Station, TX, USA; A view of the fans and the 12th man logo during the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the South Carolina Gamecocks at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Gamecocks 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The storylines around Texas A&M football and NIL continue to swirl. First, there were accusations of misuse from the hoi polloi leveled at the program following the stellar 2022 class. Then, mockery as the 2023 class failed to live up to expectations. Most recently, more accusations of impropriety arose from the announcement of the new 12th Man Foundation+.

This most recent development will do nothing to quell those accusations. According to reporting from Zach Barnett of FootballScoop, an addendum to a new bill in Texas—House Bill 2804—would prevent the NCAA, or any other organization (including conferences!), from punishing a Texas school for handing out NIL-related benefits. The full bill is linked here, but the relevant portion reads like this:

An athletic association, an athletic conference, or any other group or organization with authority over an intercollegiate athletic program at an institution to which this section applies may not enforce a contract term, a rule, a regulation, a standard, or any other requirement that prohibits the institution from participating in intercollegiate athletics or otherwise penalizes the institution or the institution’s intercollegiate athletic program for performing, participating in, or allowing an activity required or authorized by this section.

Other sections of the bill serve to reify current standards; the amateur status of athletes, prohibiting pay-for-play or incentives in recruiting, etc. Other interesting sections include requiring athletes to take financial literacy courses if they plan to take NIL deals and lacking any amendment to the current law with regard to NIL deals for high school students. This latter part is seen as somewhat of a weak point for Texas schools in contrast to other states. Missouri, for example, has passed legislation allowing high school students to receive NIL compensation before graduation if they sign with an in-state university, among other relatively lax rules. In fact, the lack of ability to profit off of NIL while still in high school is the stated reason given by Quinn Ewers for his early graduation and enrollment at Ohio State two years ago.

NIL is truly the wild west right now. Different state legislatures are passing bills with all sorts of disparate standards, making the whole thing a mind-bender to fully grasp. The NCAA, for their part, are trying with all their might to get Congress to pass a nationwide bill that would be conducive to their continued existence, as the prospect of their dissolution—or at least disaffiliation with the higher levels of revenue sports—has begun to come into play. Texas A&M football has been caught in the middle of several storylines arising from this confusion already.

The waters ahead are murky. It’s hard to predict what will happen next. That’s why I’m encouraged by moves like the 12th Man Foundation+ or the Aggies’ recent hire of Jamie Wood as “Assistant AD of NIL.” The higher levels of the Texas A&M brass seem to be forward-thinking as we forge ahead into the unknown. Hopefully that bodes well for Texas A&M football and their continuing efforts to win a championship.