What NCAA’s major rule change means for St. John’s

Across the country, college athletes can now profit off their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) following the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors vote to adopt an interim policy effective Thursday with several state laws going into effect.

And St. John’s players can benefit as well.

Shortly after the announcement, athletic director Mike Cragg sent out a memo to student-athletes, coaches and administrators outlining the Queens school’s plan. Schools in states without laws that have been passed can create their own guidelines as long as they meet the NCAA’s parameters.

According to the memo, St. John’s athletes are now allowed to hire representation to broker deals and can refer to themselves as players at the school, but are not free to use any St. John’s markings without first obtaining permission in writing from the school. Compensation is not allowed in exchange for attendance at St. John’s or athletic performance, and all contracts can’t exceed the player’s time at the school. Also, students are not allowed to endorse alcohol, tobacco products, e-cigarettes, a seller or dispensary of a controlled substance, anabolic steroids, sports betting, casino gambling or an adult entertainment business. They all must gain approval before agreeing to any deals and the school cannot aid them in any way.

St. John's athletic director Mike Cragg
St. John’s athletic director Mike Cragg
Bill Kostroun

“As far as what they get paid, that’s their business and not ours,” Cragg told The Post. “All they have to do is disclose it.”

St. John’s does feel ready for it. Last November, it launched UNLIMITED, a program designed to prepare student-athletes, coaches and staff members for NIL. There’s a 13-credit minor, launched in the spring and created by its Peter J. Tobin College of Business, in sports leadership and branding available for any student. St. John’s has also partnered with INFLCR and Teamworks, companies that specialize in social media branding.

How much St. John’s can benefit from NIL remains uncertain. It is located in New York City, where there could be plenty of opportunities for its athletes, most notably members of the flagship men’s basketball program. But this is a pro town as well with celebrity options, whereas in college towns schools like Kentucky, Alabama and Duke are the main draws.

“I don’t know if we have a big advantage. I don’t think we have a big disadvantage, but we’re going to promote it as we have since November,” Cragg said. “We feel like we’re in the best city in America and the opportunities in New York City are like no other. We see this as a positive new asset to the St. John’s experience.”

The men’s basketball coaching staff has talked to prospective recruits in broad terms about the advantage of attending St. John’s in the NIL era, and now can provide more details. This could also play a factor for wing Julian Champagnie, who is testing the NBA draft waters and has to decide by next Wednesday if he will return, since the Brooklyn native would likely be the most marketable player on the team. A source close to Champagnie said if the Big East’s leading scorer did decide to return to school, making money off of NIL would ease that decision somewhat.

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