The NCAA announced today that it would be “modernizing” its rules, allowing student-athletes to earn compensation based on their names, images, and likenesses.
The NCAA‘s Board of Governors met this week, agreeing to allow athletes to receive compensation for things like social media, personal businesses and personal appearances, provided they fall under a set of guiding principles established by the board. The NCAA release made clear that schools are still not allowed to pay athletes, but athletes can now earn money from third parties in certain cases.
There isn’t a whole lot in the release in the way of specifics, but the NCAA’s official timeline says each division should have proposals ready by September 1. Here are some of the key points of the press release:
- The NCAA will support “compensation for other student-athlete opportunities, such as social media, businesses they have started and personal appearances.”
- Student-athletes will now be able to identify themselves by sport and school, but still cannot use conference or school logos.
- Student-athletes will be treated “similarly to nonathlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.”
- All three NCAA divisions (Division I, II, and III) will come up with their own new rules to allow name-image-likeness compensation.
- Each division should come up with proposals by September of 2020, and legislation should be approved by January 2021, with effective start dates no later than the 2021-2022 school year.
Name-image-likeness, or NIL, compensation has become a major topic in college sports. The NCAA has long prohibited athletes from profiting from their statuses as NCAA student-athletes under its strict amateurism principles. But the state of California pushed the issue last fall, passing a bill that allowed student-athletes in that state to earn NIL money, though the NCAA had originally threatened a postseason ban on California schools if the law passed. With other states following in California’s footsteps, the NCAA backed off of its original stance and said it would soften its amateurism rules.
Prohibiting NIL money has been an unpopular NCAA feature, in part because of cases like the two Iowa swimmers who started a T-Shirt business, cases where student-athletes were prohibited from money-making opportunities that had little, if any, connection to sports.
The NCAA release didn’t go so far as to abandon its ideals of amateurism entirely, though. The guiding principles for the rule modernization still drew a sharp distinction between collegiate athletics and professional athletics, and expressly forbid schools from compensating athletes for athletics performance or participation.
The release also made a point to note that student-athletes will still be considered students and not employees of a school, perhaps continuing to lay groundwork against any resurgence of a 2015 campaign for student-athletes to form a union and collectively bargain with schools as employees.