College athletics is taking a large step toward long-overdue fairness. The NCAA’s top governing body has said it supports a proposal that will allow college athletes to receive payments for endorsements and other work.
A notable stipulation here is that the schools the players attend are not to be involved in the payments.
This announcement comes after the NCAA Board of Governors’ annual April meeting Tuesday. During the meeting, a working group focused on evaluating the rules regarding the ability of student-athletes to make money from their likenesses presented its findings.
While the group’s proposal would allow athletes to sign endorsement contracts, it also left room for the NCAA and individual schools to regulate the monetary value and kinds of deals players would be allowed to sign.
According to an NCAA press release, athletes will be allowed to reference their sport and school in advertisements, but that the school’s logo or branding would not be allowed in those advertisements.
The proposed changes by the working group will now move through the NCAA’s rule-making process, said Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith. According to Smith, a vote on the proposed changes would likely take place in January of next year, following a period when schools would have the chance to provide feedback.
NCAA Changes Not Set In Stone
The NCAA appears to be making strides in the right direction, but the finish line on this particular rule change is distant. In addition to the fact that these changes would need to pass a vote likely to be held approximately eight months from now, these proposed rule changes may not even remain as they currently are.
As schools provide their respective input on the proposed changes over the coming months, the potential for these changes to be altered certainly remains.
And many expect pushback from a system and governing body that’s long restricted its most basic and valuable asset, student-athletes, from receiving compensation for their labor and likeness.
The current motivation for the NCAA to change its policies toward player endorsements comes from pressure by politicians who are creating state laws to oppose the governing body’s standing set of rules.
For example, California state senator Nancy Skinner wrote a bill stating California colleges cannot punish athletes for accepting endorsement money or for hiring an agent to profit from his or her popularity. This “Fair Pay to Play” law passed and is scheduled to go into effect in 2023.
Since then, other states have introduced similar legislation.
NCAA Seeking Uniform Standard
Because the NCAA’s proposed changes would be more restrictive than what would be allowed by California law and that of other states, the NCAA is seeking a uniform standard based on federal legislation that would supersede various state law.
The NCAA is also strongly committed to ensuring its distinction from professional sports. Due to their amateurism status, the NCAA is afforded certain benefits, such as protection from antitrust violation lawsuits. This status also allows the NCAA to categorize its athletes as students rather than laborers.
In the same vein, the NCAA will ask Congress to create a law that would provide them “safe harbor” from potential lawsuits revolving around a name, image, and likeness (NIL) rules.
In a Wednesday morning press release, board chair Michael Drake said, “Allowing promotions and third-party endorsements is uncharted territory.”
As the NCAA progresses through this “uncharted territory,” we’ll see how committed schools are to providing student-athletes with a fair ability to profit from their likeness and popularity.
Although these proposed changes are a clear response to outside legislation forcing the NCAA to modernize its ideals and philosophies, it currently stands as a big step in the right direction.