ATLANTA, GA. (WCIA) — The NCAA board of directors voted unanimously today to allow student athletes to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness,” according to a press release.
The vote doesn’t change the official rule against student-athletes profiting from their name, likeness or image — the NCAA still has yet to do that.
But it’s a step in that direction.
And according to Ohio State University president and NCAA board chair Michael Drake, the vote means the NCAA’s three divisions should “consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century.”
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Drake said. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. 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 release outlined several principles and guidelines aimed at defining modernization. They include:
- Assure student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
- Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
- Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition.
- Make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
- Make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.
- Reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
- Enhance principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
- Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.
“As a national governing body, the NCAA is uniquely positioned to modify its rules to ensure fairness and a level playing field for student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”
Earlier Tuesday, Illinois lawmakers athletic departments from universities across the state sent a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and legislators decrying the state’s potential Student Athlete Endorsement Act.
“We share the sponsors’ interest in supporting the welfare of student-athletes, but we find this bill to be harmful in the short term and, in the end, unnecessary,” the letter read. They argued that the bill “could jeopardize our ability to recruit athletes wishing to compete nationally and could cause us financial penalties, forfeited competitions and other NCAA sanctions.”
Anticipating a lengthy court battle, Illinois — along with California — drafted a bill that would take effect in 2023.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Representative Chris Welch, and Senator Elgie Sims
“It’s clear that student-athletes deserve to have rights in a billion-dollar industry they helped build. After advocating for our legislation in Illinois, the NCAA took a welcome – though overdue – step forward to allow students to be compensated for their names and likenesses. We remain committed to being the voice of student-athletes in Illinois and will monitor this decision to ensure it is fully implemented. Today is a victory for student-athletes around the country who are fighting for fairness and equity, and we will continue to fight alongside you.”