College sports will likely not be the same much longer. No longer will the colleges and universities be allowed to profit off of the success of the highly recruited student-athletes, who are currently barred from earning money. The counter-argument has always been the fact the students receive a free college education.
Now the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has thrown up a white flag and agreed to allow student-athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image, and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.
The reality is the NCAA could see the writing on the wall. Once California passed a law last month, which prevented California colleges and universities from banning athletes accepting endorsement money, the flood gates were quickly opening up.
According to the statement released, the Board of Governors’ action directs each of the NCAA’s three divisions to immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century.
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of 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 the full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”
Initially, the NCAA tried to use their bully pulpit and threatened to bar California schools from participating in post-season bowl games and championships. They contended it would provide an unfair recruiting advantage for the California schools. However, soon afterward, state representatives from New York and a half dozen others announced plans to introduce similar laws. From there, the NCAA could see the writing on the wall.
What are the proposed changes?
Specifically, the board said modernization should occur within the following principles and guidelines:
- 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.”