How does PR play a role for schools and individual athletes?
By: Jocelyn Castillo
On Monday September 30, California became the first state to allow NCAA athletes to profit from endorsements, after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into a law a new bill. The bill allows players to receive endorsement deals, and profit from their name, image and likeness.
Newsom signed the bill during an episode of “The Shop,” a talk show from digital sports media company Uninterrupted. Gov. Newsom appeared alongside former NCAA athletes, including Los Angeles Lakers’ Lebron James, Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi, former UCLA basketball star Ed O’ Bannon and former UCLA viral gymnast star Katelyn Ohashi. While the episode aired on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the signing was recorded on Friday.
The law will not go into effect until 2023. But, colleges, athletes and the NCAA are all starting to think about how this will change collegiate sports and the individual effects it will have on all three.
There are both positive and negative reactions to this bill. The NCAA has stated that there should be a “clear distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.” Many are saying that the bill could be life changing for young student athletes, especially for those of lower socio-economic backgrounds. While the bill is new, this is not a new subject that is being discussed. For a long time, people have questioned the “fairness” that comes with schools and organizations profiting off of these scholar-athletes.
Now, here’s where public relations comes into the picture. With college students being able to profit off of their name and likeness, they are essentially becoming a brand and it will be beneficial for them to know how to properly manage themselves as a brand and a business. While almost all universities have a public relations team that serves to promote the school, raise awareness of alumni events, and even to clean up crisis moments, not too many schools offer an undergraduate public relations program.
With scholar-athletes entering the influncer/celebrity realm, it will be important for them to have access to resources, such as classes and professors, that can provide them with knowledge on how to manage their brand. Such students should be interested in pursuing minors or majors in public relations as it will be to their benefit. It almost makes sense to say that all scholar athletes should be required to take one or two public relations courses.
With this new law coming into effect in the next few years, we can hope to see an increase in schools offering public relations degrees and minors as well as an increase in the public relations field itself.
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