NCAA will permit athletes to be compensated for their names, images, likenesses, Board of Governors says

The National Collegiate Athletic Association will now permit athletes to be compensated for their names, images and likenesses, the NCAA Board of Governors said Tuesday.

“In the Association’s continuing efforts to support college athletes, the NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model,” the Board said in a release

Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University, said 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,” Drake 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 board said modernization should occur within a specific set of principles and guidelines, which start with assuring that student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students “unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.” 

The board said the guidelines need to make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities, as well as make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible, among other principles. 

The board’s action was based on comprehensive recommendations from the NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group, which includes presidents, commissioners, athletic directors, administrators and student-athletes. 

The working group will continue to gather feedback through April on how best to respond to the state and federal legislative environment, the release said. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman are leading the working group. 

The board also asked each NCAA division to create any new rules beginning immediately, but no later than January 2021. 

“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.”

NCAA rules have long barred players from hiring agents and the association has steadfastly refused to allow players to be paid by their schools, with some exceptions. 

A California law set to take effect in 2023 would prevent athletes from losing their scholarships or being kicked off their teams for signing endorsement deals. Other states could put laws in place earlier than that.

The NCAA said it represents some 450,000 athletes nationwide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.