Student-Athletes Hope Name, Image, and Likeness Bill Sparks Change Former Student-Athletes Hope for Passing of Name, Image, and Likeness Bill

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Even though he graduated from college in 2020, Kiante Miles still pays attention to the plight of student athletes everywhere. After all, he was one of them. While four years of football at Macalester College played a big role in his life, it did not define him.

“I was doing some stuff off the field as well,” Miles said. “Mainly it was my poetry.”

Not only was Miles slamming opponents on the field from his safety spot, he was also slamming poetry meant to empower others.

“Things kind of took off when I did a poem for Relay For Life with the American Cancer Society,” Miles said.

From there, what had only been a hobby turned into a passion. A passion Miles was insistent on sharing with whoever he met when he arrived at Macalester College in the fall of 2016. It was there he would face the biggest obstacle to promoting his work, an obstacle stemming from the game he loved to play and its governing body, the NCAA.

For all student-athletes at NCAA institutions, profiting from their name, image and likeness is not an option because of the organizations belief in the amateur status of college athletes. In other words, because student-athletes are students and not professionals, they can not profit from their status as an athlete. Miles found out in a conversation with Macalester’s compliance officer.

“You can’t have any photos of you in a football jersey or playing football at Mac or anything of that nature,” Miles said. “I was like, ‘Well if I get tagged in something you’re telling me I can get dinged?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah’. So I ended up creating a whole other Facebook page and social media for everything to try to be able to promote my work.”


At that moment, Kiante Miles the poet and Kiante Miles the athlete became two different people. At least they did to the NCAA. To his friends, that realization came with confusion.

“A lot of my friends were like, ‘That doesn’t make sense. It’s you,'” Miles said. “‘You’re not two separate people. You’re Kiante.'”

Plenty of student athletes have experienced the same situation as Miles at all levels of intercollegiate competition. All for what Syracuse University professor Roy Gutterman said is the NCAA’s main focus.

“So much of this gets wrapped up in the NCAA’s so-called amateur status of college athletes,” Gutterman said. “The college athletes literally can’t be paid for playing even though they generate a billion dollars a year for the NCAA.”

They can’t be paid for playing and can’t use their status as an athlete to promote their passions off of the field. Yet that may change in the near future. Just last week, a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress that would allow student athletes to profit from endorsement and sponsorship deals.

While that may sound like a win directed at student-athletes’ on-field performance, it’s one step closer to overarching name, image and likeness legislation that would allow them to use their athletic persona in their off-the-field activities. For Gutterman, the change has built up enough momentum to seriously challenge NCAA rules.

“I’m not sure [the NCAA] have much leverage,” Gutterman said. “Money talks, money’s the driver, and they want to preserve this aura of the amateur college athlete.”

For Miles, the passing of a bill like this would mean more than just a few dollars in the pockets of student athletes.

“If it passes, I see a lot of athletes getting some autonomy back and some control over themselves,” Miles said. “You don’t draw lines on where people’s autonomies are. They should be able to use their likeness.”

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