The can of worms that the NCAA opened when they started allowing almost unfettered access for its athletes to capitalize on their name, image and likeness (NIL) continues to cause controversy.
With a seeming lack of clearly defined rules, college athletes like popular LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne are finding ways to make money that perhaps the NCAA would have preferred she not pursue.
Related: Cavinder Twins Sponsor Threatens Lawsuit Against NCAA Over NIL Ruling
Last week, Livvy made waves in the NIL world when she posted a TikTok promoting a AI essay generator called Caktus AI.
@livvy @caktus.ai will provide real resources for you to cite at the end of your essays and paragraphs;) #caktus #foryou ♬ original sound – Coach
Caktus AI claims it is “the first-ever educational artificial intelligence tool” and “will provide real resources for you to cite at the end of your essays and paragraphs.”
Many people saw this and considered college students who tools like Caktus AI to be cheating.
Among them, apparently, was LSU faculty because within a day they had issued a statement with a warning directly addressing the use of AI to produce a student’s work.
While Olivia Dunne appears to have gone unpunished for being paid to promote a tool many college students could use to cheat (she has been competing in LSU gymnastics meets), Caktus AI co-creator and former Notre Dame kicker Harrison Leonard is very happy with the results of the promotion.
The moment you've all been waiting for…
It's a 9.85 for @livvydunne in her first routine this season
📺 SECN+ pic.twitter.com/7z6PF7OZ2M
— LSU Gymnastics (@LSUgym) February 25, 2023
“[Users on the site] is through the roof; it was very mutually beneficial for both parties,” Leonard told On3 this week. “It’s impressions – that was probably one of the most disruptive NIL campaigns that has been run, just off the amount of stories that have come out of it. New users and also subscribers of course, that’s the goal always – make money back.”
” … We’re actually really excited about it. I mean, from a marketing perspective, it’s the best thing that could ever happen.”
Interestingly, despite LSU’s pointed statement following Olivia Dunne’s TikTok, Leonard says Livvy’s deal with Caktus AI was cleared through LSU compliance.
“Schools have been pushing this off for a long time, not actually making statements,” Leonard said. “That really goes to show the power of NIL and the power of Livvy Dunne. She made that statement and she made that conversation begin, which is amazing and just goes to show her power. She’s dealt with it perfectly.
“I mean, there’s been a lot of reading in between the lines on LSU’s statement. If you actually go back and you read the full statement, you can tell it’s rather it’s more of a positive statement rather than a threat.”