The NCAA Board of Governors unanimously voted to “permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model,” according to a press release from the NCAA.
The decision comes nearly a month after California governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 206 into effect. The bill makes it illegal for the NCAA to rule a student-athlete in the state of California ineligible for receiving compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness. The California bill is expected to go into effect beginning in 2023.
The NCAA has historically banned players from being compensated outside the confines of their scholarships, claiming it would violate the ideas of amateurism that help drive the appeal of college sports. In 2017, the NCAA ruled University of Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye ineligible for refusing to discontinue his YouTube channel, which was profiting off advertisements.
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said Michael V. Drake, the chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University, in the press release. “This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”
The new changes are not coming out of the blue. Seeds of the bill were planted years ago, as this conversation has been ongoing. In 2014, the Northwestern football team attempted to unionize. They were ruled to be employees by the Chicago branch of the National Labor Relations Board. A year later, the ruling was overturned and the players were ruled to simply be student-athletes.
Despite student-athletes’ new opportunity to to capitalize on their likeness, the NCAA said it still wants to maintain a level of amateurism in order to maintain a clear difference between itself and professional sports.
According to the press release, the NCAA wants the new regulations to fall in line with these particular “principles and guidelines”
• Assure student-athletes are treated similarly to nonathlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
• Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
• Reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
• Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at or transfer to a specific institution.
The NCAA assigned its three divisions to gather information on the “legislative environment” through April 2020 and then take that information to make changes to rules no later than January 2021.
Although still new, the changes to the landscape of college athletics are already being speculated. One of the biggest practices that will be affected will be the tradition of top prospects going to school for only one year and then having to decide between another year at school or a professional contract.
“I feel like more kids are going to stay in college longer,” Texas freshman guard Courtney Ramey said. “There won’t be as many one-and-done players as there are now. More of those are going to come back to college.”