The NCAA bans student-athletes from receiving compensation for use of their Name-Image-Likeness (NIL). This has been true for a long time. However, there is a growing call for them to allow players to capitalize on this income without jeopardizing their eligibility.
One of the arguments against paying players directly out of university funds in revenue sports is that such payments would run afoul of Title IX regulations unless every athlete in every sport makes the same money. This is probably correct, and the net effect would probably be a reduction in total scholarships awarded, including those for women's sports, as revenue sports drive others into the margins.
However, NIL money would not come from universities and thus not run afoul of Title IX regulations; it would simply be unregulated (well, less-regulated, there will need to be some basic safeguards against abuse of the system) by the NCAA. Each athlete draws their own income based upon their own value.
And that's where Simone Biles comes in. Simone Biles just won the US national gymnastics championships. Which event, you may ask? All of them. At 21 she remains the best athlete in her sports, with potential to establish herself as the unquestioned greatest of all time if she continues like this through 2020.
Simone Biles should be a student at UCLA right now. She actually committed to compete for them after the 2016 Olympics, but in 2015 she decided to forego college and "go professional," which for most Olympic athletes simply means accepting NIL sponsorship money. This was a wise decision, because the window for a gymnast to be famous enough to make serious money is small, and it typically occurs at a young age.
Football, basketball, baseball, and hockey athletes that are good enough to play professionally have a choice to spend time in college before making significant income in their chosen sports. One could argue that restricting them to scholarship money is "fair" in this sense because if they're good enough they will make money anyway.
But Simone Biles has no such option. Her choice was, almost certainly, to choose to EITHER compete in college OR to make money from her status as one of the world's great athletes.
A similar option was presented to Katie Ledecky. She comes from a well-to-do family and left millions of dollars on the table to compete for Stanford in swimming; nonetheless, after two years she has also turned professional.
The NCAA is doing massive damage to its own products by banning its athletes from accepting NIL money. If young Olympic stars were permitted to make NIL money in college, more of them would compete in NCAA events, and the profiles of those sports could skyrocket. Can you imagine the impact on college gymnastics if NBC kept talking about how Simone Biles (not to mention all of the others) was going to compete for UCLA in 16-17 while she was dominating in Rio?
It hurts the athletes. It hurts the sports. It hurts the schools that could benefit from people like Biles and Ledecky.
The NCAA needs to allow athletes to capitalize on NIL money. Everyone is worse off for their refusal.