Season 2, Episode 6 - Name, Image and Likeness – The Future of College Sports

Transcript | Duration: 24:29

About the Episode

College athletics is more than just sports. It includes televised broadcasts, beverage contracts and apparel sponsorships turning athletics into a $14 billion-dollar industry. The Fair Pay for Play Act, which passed through California legislators in 2020, will allow student-athletes to profit for their name, image and likeness. A vote to these rules change by NCAA is pending. Although NCAA had long-standing rules against compensation for intercollegiate athletes, many acknowledge the inequity in financial power and privilege at stake, changing policies for Division I intercollegiate athletics. How will these changes affect college athletics? How are campuses preparing to support their students with their NIL branding? What opportunities does this present to student athletes? Higher Ed Rewired speaks with Athletic Director, Ross Bjork at Texas A&M University, Sports Management faculty, Jeremy Evans at California State University, Long Beach and University of California, Los Angeles gymnast, Nia Dennis on what this means for the future of college athletics.

Featured on this episode:

Ross Bjork is the Director of Athletics Texas A&M, where he provides leadership for the 20 NCAA Division I-A level sports. He came to Texas A&M from the University of Mississippi, where he served as the Director of Athletics for seven years.

His achievements include back-to-back Top 40 Directors' Cup finishes, ranking 38th among Division I institutions in 2017-18, and securing the university's first appearance in the College World Series in 42 years in 2014. New facilities and renovation improvements flourished under his leadership including the Manning Center, the Pavilion at Ole Miss and a large renovation at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Ross Bjork has an extensive career in intercollegiate athletics with more than two decades of experience as an administrator and student-athlete, having worked on the senior staffs at University of California Los Angeles, the University of Miami and the University of Missouri. He began his administrative career at Western Kentucky University as an Assistant Development Coordinator in 1996-97.

He is a native of Dodge City, Kansas, and received his bachelor’s degree in recreation administration from Emporia State University in 1995 where he was a two-year starter as fullback. Ross Bjork was honored by Emporia State with the 2017 distinguished alumni award. He earned a master’s degree in athletic administration from Western Illinois University in December 1996. He has quickly established a leadership role in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) by serving as Chair of the awards committee and representing the SEC on NCAA men's basketball oversight committee and the NCAA transfer working group.

Nia Dennis is a senior on the University of California, Los Angeles gymnastics team, a 2018 NCAA champion, and 2019 All-American. Dennis made a name for herself in 2020 with her floor exercise routine set to Beyonce’s music, which has accumulated more than 20 million views. She now has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram and landed her a guest appearance on The Ellen Show in March 11, 2020 . Dennis has two viral videos on TikTok, which have amassed a combined 25 million views. A sociology major, she will enter her senior season in 2021 with one of the most highly-anticipated floor exercise routines in NCAA Gymnastics. Dennis was a member of the United States National Team from 2013-15.

Jeremy M. Evans is on the faculty at California State University, Long Beach in the Sports Management Program. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles. He is the founder & managing attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele.

His clients range from Fortune 500 companies to athletes, entertainers, models, television and film producers, studios, entertainment, media, and sports businesses in contractual, intellectual property, formation, distribution, negotiation, and dealmaking matters. Evans is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with an Emphasis in American Politics, Thomas Jefferson School of Law with a Juris Doctor , Pepperdine University with a Master of Laws in Entertainment, Media, and Sports Law, and Pepperdine University with a Master of Business Administration in Entertainment, Media, and Sports Management (MBA '20).

Prior to opening California Sports Lawyer®, Evans worked as a Graduate Law Clerk at the Superior Court of California, advising judicial officers in civil and criminal law and motion matters. Prior to law school, he worked in accounting and finance for a business-only litigation firm, Quinn Emanuel Uquhart & Sullivan LLP. He has also worked as a legislative aide and field representative in the California State Legislature and continues to work on local and national campaigns.

Resources for This Episode