NCAA allows players to profit off use of name, image and likeness


ncaa-athletes-profit-name-likeness-imageAmerica’s long-suffering student athletes will finally be able to earn a buck from the sweat of their brow after the NCAA belatedly realized it was on the wrong side of history.

On Tuesday, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s board of governors unanimously voted to allow its student athletes “the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

The NCAA offered a few guidelines underpinning its new “modernization” policy, including the fact that “compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.” The NCAA also stipulated that student-athletes “are students first and not employees of the university” and that there must be “a clear distinction between college and professional opportunities.”

The NCAA plans to gather “feedback” through April 2020 on “how best to respond to the state and federal legislative environment.” The idea is that each of the three NCAA divisions will create their own sets of rules no later than January 2021.

While the NCAA pats itself on the back for its new forward-thinking policy, the fact is its hands were forced by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who recently signed his state’s Pay to Play bill into law. The law will allow student-athletes at California colleges to monetize their fame by signing endorsement deals and hiring sports agents when it takes effect in 2023.

The NCAA was (and reportedly still is) contemplating suing the state or preventing state teams from participating in championship events (much as it did with New Jersey when that state passed sports betting legislation in 2012).

This spring, the NCAA lifted its NCAA Championships Policy Related to Sports Wagering, recognizing the futility of maintaining this approach following the US Supreme Court’s overturning of the federal sports betting prohibition in May 2018.

Board chairman Michael Drake tried to put a brave face on things, saying the NCAA “must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes.” You have to admit, that reads a lot better than ‘screw those kids,’ which might as well have been the money-printing NCAA’s unofficial motto until now.

The NCAA’s about-face came just 24 hours after the NFL Players Association and the National College Players Association announced they would work together to explore how college players might be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness.