NCAA Votes to Permit Student-Athletes to Profit from Name, Image & Likeness

The NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously Tuesday to allow student-athletes to profit off of their own name, image, and likenesses in “a manner consistent with the collegiate model,” the organization announced.

The Board is directing each of the NCAA‘s three divisions to “immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century.” The divisions have been asked to create rules that take effect no later than January 2021.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Michael Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University, 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 move comes almost exactly a month after California passed bill SB 206, otherwise known as the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which was set to grant California-based NCAA athletes the opportunity to profit off their name, image and likeness come 2023. After that bill was passed, other states quickly followed with their own versions, challenging the NCAA‘s long-standing stranglehold on keeping its athletes amateur in the financial sense.

The Pac-12 Conference – the major conference in which Division I teams in California participate – and its schools in the state publicly opposed the bill, voicing concerns regarding recruiting and the support of Olympic and women’s sports.

The board recommended updates to the following guidelines specifically, according to the release:

  • 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.

The decision was based on the recommendation of the NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group, which includes presidents, commissioners, athletics directors, administrators and student-athletes.

It’s unclear as of now exactly what implementing rules “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model” entails — and the decision will garner some level of skepticism until that potentially massive caveat does come to light. In fact, in a page of FAQs that came along with the announcement, the NCAA maintained that it believes California’s approach is unconstitutional, and “directly contradicts the mission of college sports within higher education,” so don’t expect athletes to be freely signing lucrative endorsement deals just yet.

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gift horse
4 years ago

WSU football head coach Leach on NIL:

“For example, say if a school needs a running back and all the sudden some guy says, ‘Listen, if you come to this school, I will give you $100,000 if I can put your face on my business card.’ It’s a very short jump to where you’re outright buying players.”

4 years ago


4 years ago

Scholarships can then be deemed income and can be taxed; watch for legislators at the state level to take this move.

4 years ago

I’m sure this was already brought up or there is some clause in the new rules by the NCAA, but if an NCAA athlete is on a fully funded program that uses all of their scholarships, so, let’s say an FBS football program uses all 85 of their full scholarships, and an player makes $5000 to use his image in some advertising, then doesn’t the athlete have to pay back the university for this amount since he was paid this based on his athletic ability and the program is fully funded? So, for swimming, in the rare case where someone is a student/athlete at a university with a fully funded women’s program, so 14 full scholarships portioned out. If a… Read more »

4 years ago

Sorry but student athletes and students should not be treated the same. The athletes work so much more and harder than any other non athlete at any University.

4 years ago

I’m a Mid Major D1 swimmer and I created a famous swimming Instagram account. While I was super involved with it in high school when I created it, when I got to college (I’m a senior now) I really started to not have the time to keep it up. That being said, many large swimming companies reached out to ask to either send things or ask to pay for posts. It was always a struggle for me to understand what I could and couldn’t get from the account because my name/likeness wasn’t really tied to it, but talking about products had the potential to introduce that. Different people had different interpretations, but I owned it and it was tied to… Read more »

Moving forward
4 years ago

Seems to me that boosters will prefer to give the blue chip players money directly to “use their likeness” and get them to their school rather than give it to the athletic department resulting in fewer dollars going to the athletic department. That will trickle down and effect Olympic/non revenue sports, especially on the men’s side. Get ready for more cuts to men’s non-revenue sports in the future as all the non-relevant football schools try to keep up with the big boys.

A$AP Pocky
4 years ago

NCAA 2021 for the Xbox here we come. Also, time to get my Chase Young jersey!

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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