Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss football preparing for future with name, image, likeness changes looming

Nick Suss
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

OXFORD — The future of college sports in Mississippi is being decided before our eyes.

On March 31, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for NCAA v. Alston, the first time the business model of the NCAA has been questioned before the Supreme Court since the 1980s.

NCAA v. Alston primarily will be a case about whether the NCAA has jurisdiction to define amateurism and if the existing pay structure in the NCAA violates antitrust law. But the eventual ruling in the case will shape the future of the debate about whether student-athletes can be compensated for their name, image and likeness.

In recent years, 35 states and the federal government have introduced, voted on or discussed bills that will allow student-athletes to be paid for their names, images and likenesses. This would allow college athletes to make money off sponsorships, appearances, autographs, camps or any other such activities.

Mississippi is among those 35 states. Mississippi senate bill 2313 passed in the house and senate on March 26. A signature is due from Gov. Tate Reeves by April 16. The bill, if signed, will be effective on July 1.

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Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is preparing for that possibility.

"We’ve been in discussions about that on potential things that we do for players for I’d say about a year now," Kiffin said. "We’ll be ready whenever that happens."

There's still plenty of time for circumstances surrounding this debate to change before summer. The NCAA can seek an injunction against or sue states that legalize NIL payments without a federal ruling. Or there could be a federal ruling that renders all state decisions moot.

But Ole Miss, and any other college sports teams in Mississippi, have to be prepared for the possibility that athletes might soon be able to market themselves.

Kiffin said that preparation means expanding staff to allow for opportunities to be taken advantage of without the players also being taken advantage of.

"Just bringing in different people so that you have a program in place," Kiffin said. "Where it’s just not coaches. You’re able to set these things up and manage things so that the players are getting the most they can out of the rules but at the same time it’s not major distractions for them."

Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or nsuss@gannett.com. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.