“It’s a new frontier in college athletics. Although it is a significant change, allowing student-athletes the same opportunities as other students is consistent with Ivy philosophy, and a positive development,” McDermott said.
Several student-athletes at Harvard, all excited about the change in policy, are approaching it in different ways. Scherl observed, “It’s been a good lesson in deciding what things are worth your time or money or cost.”
The computer science concentrator has an agreement with an equipment company, which provides complimentary squash rackets in exchange for his informal support of the brand. Harvard provides rackets for varsity competitions, but students are responsible for obtaining their own equipment when the College is not in session. Scherl is not required to post on social media about the products, only to speak well of them.
First-year women’s rugby player Kiani Akina ’25 arrived on campus after the July 1 NCAA rule changes. Since high school, she has partnered with companies that ask her to post endorsements in exchange for product and a small commission on purchases by her 2,800 Instagram followers. The Matthews Hall resident noted that as a college student, one’s discretionary spending budget can be limited. Her work with wellness products and clothing lines can close the gaps: “Everything I wore to school today was sent to me,” Akina said.
Acer Iverson ’24, an Adams House resident who competes on the men’s cross-country team, partners with a small local running company to share his experience as a high-level athlete at a well-known academic institution. Iverson creates social media content, which the company posts on its channels, in exchange for equipment and a modest fee. Iverson values both the opportunity to inspire younger athletes who may want to follow his path, and the chance to showcase the tight-knit distance running community. “You don’t see cross-country on ESPN much,” Iverson said.
All three say they are grateful for the chance to pursue a greater range of new opportunities, including some that formerly were available to fellow students but not to them.
“It’s nice to see the NCAA find more of a balance between ensuring a level playing field and amateurism,” Scherl said, “but also not unnecessarily restricting a student-athlete’s rights beyond those of a typical college student.”