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NCAA moves to allow athletes to profit off name, image, and likeness in 2021-22

A big change to college athletics is on the horizon.

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

It is starting to look like we will have a major change in college athletics, and it is a change that many have wanted for a long time.

At this week’s meeting, the NCAA Board of Governors expressed support for a rule change that would allow student-athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements. The rule change would also support compensation for other opportunities like social media, personal appearances, and businesses that they have started.

While the athletes are allowed to make money from third-party endorsements, none of the money can come from the school, and the athletes can’t use the conference or school logos or trademarks, the NCAA said in their release.

“While student-athletes would be permitted to identify themselves by sport and school, the use of conference and school logos, trademarks or other involvement would not be allowed. The board emphasized that at no point should a university or college pay student-athletes for name, image and likeness activities.”

The board directed all three divisions to consider appropriate rules changes to go with the recommendations from its Federal and State Legislation Working Group.

“Throughout our efforts to enhance support for college athletes, the NCAA has relied upon considerable feedback from and the engagement of our members, including numerous student-athletes, from all three divisions,” said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of Ohio State. “Allowing promotions and third-party endorsements is uncharted territory.”

The recommendations will now move into the “rules-making structure” in all three of the NCAA’s divisions to continue their consideration of the change. The current plan is for all three of the divisions to adopt the new rule changes by January so that they can take effect for the 2021-22 academic year.

“The board is requiring guardrails around any future name, image and likeness activities. These would include no name, image and likeness activities that would be considered pay for play; no school or conference involvement; no use of name, image and likeness for recruiting by schools or boosters; and the regulation of agents and advisors.”

These actions are the latest steps to try and change the landscape of college athletics and modernize their rules when it comes to name, image, and likeness. However, any rule changes that are adopted by the three divisions must meet the following guidelines and principles.

  • Ensuring student-athletes are treated similarly to nonathlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
  • Maintaining the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
  • Ensuring rules are transparent, focused and enforceable, and facilitating fair and balanced competition.
  • Making clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
  • Making clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.
  • Reaffirming that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
  • Enhancing principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
  • Protecting the recruiting environment and prohibiting inducements to select, remain at or transfer to a specific institution.

The board relied on a report from the Federal and State Legislation Working Group in order to make the rule change recommendations. In that report, the working group recognized that the rules may need to vary at each division level.

An issue that the NCAA could face is outside legal and legislative factors. So, the board also discussed these challenges and they will engage Congress to take the following steps.

  • Ensuring federal preemption over state name, image and likeness laws.
  • Establishing a “safe harbor” for the Association to provide protection against lawsuits filed for name, image and likeness rules.
  • Safeguarding the nonemployment status of student-athletes.
  • Maintaining the distinction between college athletes and professional athletes.
  • Upholding the NCAA’s values, including diversity, inclusion and gender equity.

These recommendations were provided so that the NCAA could receive input on the potential assistance that the NCAA needs to seek from Congress.

“The evolving legal and legislative landscape around these issues not only could undermine college sports as a part of higher education but also significantly limit the NCAA’s ability to meet the needs of college athletes moving forward,” Drake said. “We must continue to engage with Congress in order to secure the appropriate legal and legislative framework to modernize our rules around name, image and likeness. We will do so in a way that underscores the Association’s mission to oversee and protect college athletics and college athletes on a national scale.”

Overall, I would say that we are getting very close to these rule changes and student-athletes will finally be able to make money off their own name, image, and likeness.

With some top recruits like Jalen Green already deciding to pass on college and go to the G-League, these rule changes will be a huge step in trying to ensure that the top recruits go to college at least for one season. These changes could be what was needed in order to “save” college athletics.