NCAA Starts Progress for Student-Athletes

The NCAA’s board of governors met in Atlanta and the biggest question on the agenda was student-athletes being able to use their name, image, and likeness. The NCAA has recognized that times are changing and that they need to adapt to the changing society but until this point has been very lethargic when making changes. In a unanimous decision by the board of governors, the NCAA will “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 their press release.

 

This is in large part a response to California’s Fair Pay to Play Act which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 30, 2019. While the law does not go into effect until 2023 it has prompted other states to start the talk of giving athletes the same rights that other students have.

The NCAA has said they will have bylaw and rule changes by January 2021. The circumstances that will allow these to remain in the collegiate model remain to be seen.

The NCAA has dragged their feet on this topic for quite some time all the while TV endorsements have grown. The athletes have seen none of it. Permitting student-athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness will not give the athletes a share of these massive deals but will allow athletes to use their name to make money. With a move on this previously Katie Ledecky could have finished her swimming career at Stanford, Jordan Spieth could have continued playing at Texas, and UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi could have capitalized on her perfect score routine that went viral. All while these athletes had to make a decision, Kyler Murray was en route to a Heisman trophy and under an almost $5 million contract with the Oakland Athletics. The difference was a different sport.

The NCAA has protected their aspect of amateurism like a mother protecting their child. They fear the game will never be the same. However, what they truly fear is that Division I football and men’s basketball will never be the same. They forget about the other 22 sports, they forget about the other two divisions and forget that the 460,000 athletes competing across the country.

Today is a day where athletes around the country can now make a plan to start a softball camp, to charge a little for an autograph, or to receive a free meal from a fan without the fear of being ruled ineligible.

The NCAA is on the right path. This is a small victory for athlete’s rights and it is yet to be seen where the NCAA draws the line. But one thing is certain, things will change. Athletes will start to pocket a little more money and the fans will still tune in every Saturday to give the NCAA it’s billion-dollar revenue.

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