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NCAA Takes Steps in Name
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

NCAA Takes Steps in Name, Image and Likeness Compensation

April 29, 2020

The NCAA Board of Governors took a major step Wednesday morning in compensating student-athletes for their name, image and likeness. The NCAA’s highest governing body provided their support to the rule changes that would “allow student-athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements both related to and separate from athletics.”

In a release, the NCAA said it would engage with Congress to ensure these steps are taken for student-athletes across the country:

  • 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.

In a call Wednesday morning, NCAA president Mark Emmert was joined by a number of chairs to discuss the decision. Michael Drake, chair of the Board of Governors and president of Ohio State, Val Ackerman, co-chair of the Federal and State Legislation Working Group and commissioner of the Big East, Gene Smith, co-chair of the Federal and State Legislation Working Group and Ohio State senior vice president and athletics director, and Nicholas Clark, chair of the Board of Governors Student-Athlete Engagement Committee, all spoke with the media about the potential rule changes.

Part of that discussion was about the guard rails that would be put in place to address potential concerns. The NCAA wants to ensure student-athletes remain just that and do not become employees of any university.

“We [need to] provide the protections necessary so they can do it with integrity and the right way and not be taken advantage of,” Smith said to reporters.

The guardrails would prevent schools and conferences from playing a role in a student-athletes NIL activities and from using NIL opportunities in recruitment of athletes. Schools and conferences would not be able to disguise form of pay for athletic participation, and all payment would need to be genuine and would be reported to the IRS.

MORE: Nebraska Is One of the Most Followed Volleyball Teams in the World

Student-athletes should be compensted for any third-party endorsements, including any “social media influencer” activities. Those activities also do not have to be sports-specific. They could choose to record an album, start a fashion line, etc.

Smith said that there would be no cap on earnings for student-athletes, but there might need to be additional guardrails in place to prevent one brand from paying one athlete above fair market value. Those on the call shared that there “might be a limit” to remain eligible, but that is a discussion that will be had as this moves forward.

The NCAA is expected to draft legislation by Oct. 31, 2020, and then adopt the new NIL rules in 2021. The formal vote is expected to take place on Jan. 31, 2021 at the next NCAA convention. If approved, the legislation would go into effect for the 2021-22 school year.

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