Jay Bilas on the future of collegiate sports in the NIL era
Sports commentator and lawyer Jay Bilas spoke at Elon University’s new Charlotte facility this week, highlighting changes he thinks are coming to college sports and why the city’s new law school matters.
While many know Bilas from his playing days at Duke University or his commentary on ESPN during the college basketball season, he’s also a practicing attorney at Moore & Van Allen, based in uptown Charlotte.
Last month, Elon announced its new law school program in Charlotte, which will give the city its first law school in nearly a decade since the Charlotte School of Law closed.
“Any law school is a good thing,” Bilas said. “I know in the Charlotte community there was an attempt with a for-profit school, Charlotte School of Law. Having a school as good as Elon University having a presence here is important.”
Bilas predicts the college sports world will require more practicing lawyers and attorneys, especially with the rise of the Name, Image and Likeness deals that allow NCAA athletes to make deals with companies and profit from their names.
Bilas doesn’t think college sports have seen a drastic change since NIL deals became commonplace, but he said education about legal rights, contracts and other things players and schools have to consider is still helpful.
“Now with all the new media cropping up ancillary rights to certain things, it's important and I can't imagine that more education isn't better than less,” Bilas said. “In college sports right now and sports in general, I mean, it's becoming a bigger area.
"These are multibillion-dollar properties. And there are a ton of legal issues that come up, whether it's antitrust or you name it, intellectual property issues.”
And Bilas said he expects the money available in college sports to only grow in the NIL era.
“That's what led to the explosion and money, people think it's a bigger deal now because the players are gaining financial rights,” Bilas said .
Conferences in college sports have also experienced a variety of changes. Recently, the Charlotte-based Atlantic Coast Conference said they will add two new schools: Southern Methodist University and Stanford University.
While Charlotte is not home to a Power Five conference school, there are a variety of schools at different levels of the NCAA such as UNC Charlotte (in the American Conference), Queens University (in the ASUN) and Davidson College (in the Atlantic 10). Players from any of these schools could become the next mega-star to gain an NIL deal — just picture collegiate Steph Curry if he could have signed media rights deals.
“So it seems like there's more change, but the change has been constant and that's not going away,” he said. “We're going to continue to see more change. It's just that players are able to participate in that.”