The NCAA board of governors has started the process to permit student athletes to be eligible while benefitting from the use of their name, image and likeness “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”
The action came at a board of governors meeting held in Atlanta on Tuesday, and comes in obvious response to a California law signed by governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month that will permit student athletes to profit from their likeness.
“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.”
There is no process or plan in place at this time, and the board of governors’ only firm action on Tuesday was to direct each of the three NCAA divisions to consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies.
But the NCAA has plenty of time to create a plan of action. The California law is not set to take effect until 2023. The board of governors’ ruling permits each division to act immediately, but no later than January of 2021.
Similar bills to the California law are expected to be introduced to the Pennsylvania and West Virginia state legislature. Florida and New York are already considering such bills. Former Ohio State wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, who represents the 16th district of Ohio in the United State House of Representatives, has proposed a similar federal law.
There’s no question that the series of potential laws and rising public opinion on the issue created an environment where the NCAA felt that it needed to act on this issue.
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said board chair and Ohio State president Michael Drake said. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education.”