LSU Gymnast Needs Extra Security- See Why
The advent of NIL in college, and even high-school sports, has changed the entire game for athletes... Pun intended. NIL stands for Name, Image, Likeness, and it represents the ability for athletes to be able to profit from themselves.
Until recently, the NCAA had very strict rules on what schools and athletes could or could not except as gifts from booster members, fans, or sponsors. And even with NIL, there are a couple of conditions. According to SI.com:
Two things remain disallowed by NCAA rules: 1) you can't pay a player, and, 2) no quid pro quo.
Players aren't supposed to get any compensation tied for performance, and recruits cannot sign any NIL deal contingent on going to any particular school.
One athlete, LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne has been able to take advantage of NIL, and became a millionaire by the time she was 18. Dunne, a sophomore at LSU, is considered one of the most influential women in college athletics with over 4 million subscribers on TikTok, and more than a million on Instagram.
And now, because of her popularity, large groups of teenage boys gather en masse to see the young phenom, causing the LSU gymnastics team to have to increase security. LSU Gymnastics coach Jay Clark is concerned the situation is only going to get worse after a video of the incident was posted by a reporter.
“And so, somebody puts it on the internet, and it goes viral and so now all we’ve done is sort of encourage that kind of behavior everywhere we go,” said Clark.
Unlike some other professional athletes over the years who's popularity was not based on their athletic success, Dunne's performance on the uneven bars helped LSU finish second in 2020.
Not everyone is thrilled with the gymnast's popularity though. Critics claim Dunne is bringing a different outlook on image and money to sports, thereby diminishing the role of passion for sports. This according to an article in the Economic Times.
Coach Clark acknowledges that while NIL might help put new names and faces on a sport the public might not have been aware of previously, it also has it's disadvantages.
“We live in a world where you don’t know who’s going to get into that crowd. I remember Monica Seles signing autographs thinking she was doing something completely innocent, and a guy pulls out a knife. So, you don’t want to live in fear, but you’ve got to make sure we take precautions,” said Clark.
LSU Gymnastics is currently ranked 10th, and will face 12th ranked University of Kentucky in Lexington on Friday.