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NCAA Shifts: Votes Unanimously To Permit College Athletes To Make Money From Their Fame

On Tuesday, the NCAA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to allow college athletes to reap cash from use of their names, images and likenesses “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”
Michael V. Drake, chair of the board, stated:“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes. 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.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert added, “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. The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”
The board added that among the principles and guidelines guiding the change were to “make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities” as well as “make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.”
The NCAA board noted, “The working group will continue to gather feedback through April on how best to respond to the state and federal legislative environment and to refine its recommendations on the principles and regulatory framework. The board asked each division to create any new rules beginning immediately, but no later than January 2021.”
As The Sporting News reported, prior to the meeting in Atlanta at which the new guidelines were adopted, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports, “We are coalescing on a set of principles that adhere as close to the collegiate model as possible. We’ll be posing some questions to the board of governors about how they want us to proceed from here. It’s not going to be a short process. There aren’t going to be any answers on [Tuesday].”
The NCAA has radically changed its position on the issue; in September, after the California state senate had unanimously passed a bill allowing college athletes to cash in, the NCAA Board of Governors wrote to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, asserting:
If the bill becomes law and California’s 58 NCAA schools are compelled to allow an unrestricted name, image and likeness scheme, it would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions. These outcomes are untenable.
Dan Murphy of ESPN noted, “If the pot of money for athletic dept.’s shrink due to new rules, non-rev sports could suffer if the individual athletic department’s decide to take away from those sports’ budgets as opposed to trimming budgets of money-making sports.”
If the pot of money for athletic dept.'s shrink due to new rules, non-rev sports could suffer if the individual athletic department's decide to take away from those sports' budgets as opposed to trimming budgets of money-making sports.
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Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted, “Big move in the right direction toward compensating college athletes. But it’s not enough – the NCAA operates a billion-dollar business and the athletes deserve their fair share of that value, particularly as they are the ones putting themselves out there on the field.”

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