NCAA Permits Student-Athletes to Profit from Name, Image, and Likeness Rights

  • NCAA’s three divisions must update rules by January 2021
  • College athletes can make money, but cannot be paid by school
  • California passed bill in September allowing athletes to make money
  • Other state and federal bills were catalysts for NCAA’s decision
large-scale freestanding NCAA logo
The NCAA announced on Tuesday that it will permit student-athletes to profit from their names, images, and likenesses, pending the development of rules by its three divisions. [Image:]

NCAA divisions to work on rules immediately

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced on Tuesday that its Board of Governors voted to allow college athletes to profit from their names, images, and likenesses. The measure received unanimous approval.

immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century

The three divisions of the NCAA have been directed to “immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century” so that athletes can make money while maintaining amateur status.

The rules must be created by January 2021.

NCAA Board sets forth guidelines

The board outlined a series of guidelines to which the divisions must adhere when updating their rules. Student-athletes, for instance, must be “treated similarly” to non-athletes when it comes to earning money. They may not be paid specifically for their athletic performance or participation, though. Student-athletes are also students, not employees of the school.

Also of importance is fairness and transparency. Though athletes will be allowed to make money, the rules must be structured in a way such that money is not an incentive to “select, remain at, or transfer to” a school. Schools cannot be at an advantage in recruiting based on any sort of payment.

California already passed law

The NCAA’s decision follows a similar law passed by the state of California a month ago. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act, introduced by State Senators Steven Bradford and Nancy Skinner on September 30.

The law makes it legal for athletes at the state’s colleges and universities to earn money by selling the rights to their names, likenesses, and images. Student-athletes may also hire agents, something that previously negated their amateur status.

The day the Fair Pay to Play Act was signed by the governor, Senator Skinner tweeted how it’s wrong that athletes, who are the “most responsible for creating the wealth” on behalf of college sports, do not get their share of the billions generated.

More state, federal legislation in the works

At least a dozen states have discussed similar bills to the one passed in California. Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he supported a bill introduced in his state.

Lawmakers have also been working on legislation on the national level. Representative Mark Walker (R – N.C.) has a bill which would actually amend the tax code in such a way as to make the NCAA permit athletes to profit off of their names, images, and likenesses.

Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R – Ohio), a former football player at Ohio State, also plans to introduce a bill. He told ESPN that he has spoken with Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, a member of the NCAA Board of Governors, about making sure legislation includes “guard rails” that would prevent unintended negative consequences.

NCAA spurred into action

Current and former student-athletes have been calling for such changes for years. In that time, the NCAA has pushed back. Smith, though, told ESPN that the recent state and federal legislation gave the organization a “kick in the butt” to take action.

recent state and federal legislation gave the organization a “kick in the butt” to take action

The NCAA wants to put restrictions on how far student-athletes can go in making money, while at the same time doing enough to stave off federal legislation that would allow for an unrestricted market.

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