Top-seeded Baylor women roll 89-59 over Idaho to NCAA opener

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WACO, Texas (AP) Alexis Jones had to wait three years to get back into the NCAA Tournament. The standout forward had quite a debut with top-seeded Baylor.

Jones hit a 3-pointer on the game’s first shot and went on to score 23 points in the Lady Bears’ 89-59 victory over Idaho in a first-round Dallas Region game on their home court.

“She’s been talking about it all week. She was excited before the game, she was really hyped,” said Nina Davis, Baylor’s three-time All-Big 12 forward. “We knew that she was going come out and she was going to be on her A-game.”

Jones appeared in the NCAA Tournament as a freshman with Duke three years ago, but tore her left ACL before the postseason of her sophomore year with the Blue Devils. After transferring back to her home state of Texas, Jones redshirting with Baylor last season while recovering from the ACL surgery and a procedure to repair a microfracture in her right knee.

“Alexis, she’s just finally getting back to where she was before,” coach Kim Mulkey said. “Wow, what a great time for her to start playing the way she is. I think it started a month or so ago.”

Davis had 18 points and seven rebounds, while Niya Johnson had 16 assists and five rebounds for the Lady Bears (34-1), who have won 21 in a row. Kristy Wallace added 13 points, all while making her first five field goals in the first 12 minutes.

Ali Forde had 17 points to lead Idaho (24-10), while Christina Salvatore had 12 while making only 3-of-14 3-pointers.

Jones, who was MVP of the Big 12 tournament Baylor won for the sixth consecutive season, was 9-of-15 shooting with five 3-pointers, and also had eight rebounds and five assists in her first NCAA game for the Lady Bears – after this season joining their standout duo of Davis and senior point guard Johnson, the national assists leader.

“You put Jones into this mix …. they can get to the Final Four,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said. “Jones is the X-factor that they didn’t have last year, along with depth inside. They’re going to get there.”

The Lady Bears still have a few games to go, but are only one win away from their eighth straight Sweet 16.

Baylor never trailed after Jones’ game-opening 3, and she also had a 3-pointer to start the scoring after halftime.

“It’s just exciting to know that the whole team came out and had a lot of energy,” Jones said. “It’s just a really good feeling.”

NIL and NCAA: What to know about the new policy and how NBC Sports can help

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As of July 1, 2021, a new NCAA policy has been in effect allowing student-athletes from all three divisions to monetize their name, image, and likeness (often referred to as NIL). As long as the activities are “consistent with the law of the state where the school is located,” athletes now have the opportunity to accept endorsements from brands, monetize their social media presences, and work with professional firms to coordinate deals.

Click here for additional information and guidelines regarding NCAA NIL policies and keep reading to find answers to questions such as how NIL works as well as how NBC Sports can help.

What is NIL and NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct is coming to a school near you. The program enables college student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) through a unique marketplace that connects athletes with advertisers. NBC Sports Athlete Direct will work to provide equal opportunities to all student-athletes, regardless of which team you play on or any statistical performance.

How will the NIL Marketplace work?

Advertisers will use NBC Sports Athlete Direct to make NIL offers available to college student-athletes. College student-athletes will then have the option to participate in the NIL offer. Those who decide to participate and complete the advertiser’s campaign requirements will be compensated based on a predetermined rate.

How much money can athletes make participating in NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Compensation will vary by advertiser campaign.

When will NBC Sports Athlete Direct launch and how can I sign up?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct will officially launch in the Fall of 2022 but prior to that, we will be launching a pilot program soon, exclusively for Temple and Vanderbilt student-athletes.

In the meantime, click here to fill out a student-athlete interest form and once it is available at your school, we will notify you and provide you with additional information on how to sign up.

If I participate in NIL offers from NBC Sports Athlete Direct, do I still have the freedom to do other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Yes, this program is non-exclusive so our student-athletes will have the freedom to participate in other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct.

What are the rules or restrictions for participating in this program?

Unfortunately, international students and students under the age of 18 are not eligible to participate in the pilot program at this time.

Kentucky to allow college athletes to earn off likeness

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday allowing the state’s college athletes – including players on the nationally renowned Kentucky and Louisville men’s basketball teams – to make money through the use of their name, image or likeness.

The Democratic governor said he took the action as a matter of fairness for college athletes. It will spare Kentucky’s colleges from being at a competitive disadvantage with rivals in other states that will have laws enabling athletes to profit off their name, image or likeness, he said.

“This is important to our student-athletes, who for decades, others – whether it’s companies or institutions – have profited on,” Beshear told reporters. “These athletes deserve to be a part of that.”

Beshear said his executive order takes effect July 1, when similar legislation passed in several other states will become law. His office said he was the first governor to make the change by executive order.

The governor’s action won praise from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. UK plays in the Southeastern Conference and UofL competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Bringing the state of Kentucky into competitive balance with other states across the country and, more specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference is critical,” Vince Tyra, U of L’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said in a release issued by the governor’s office.

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the governor’s action “provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness.”

“We are appreciative of that support, as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted,” Barnhart said in the same release from Beshear’s office. “The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago.”

In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas, laws go into effect July 1 that make it impermissible for the NCAA and members schools to prevent athletes from being paid by third parties for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances.

The NCAA had hoped for a national law from Congress that has not come, and its own rule-making has been bogged down for months. College sports leaders are instead moving toward the type of patchwork regulation they have been warning against for months.