NCAA moves toward allowing compensation for name, image and likeness

The NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously Tuesday to start the process to allow college athletes to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness. The move comes nearly a month after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the Fair Play to Pay Act, which prompted a number of other states to move toward adopting similar legislation.

According to a press release from the NCAA, the move directs each of the organization’s three divisions to update its bylaws in a way that allows student-athletes to be compensated “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model” by January 2021, stating that paying athletes directly for athletic performance is still entirely impermissible.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said Dr. Michael Drake, president of The Ohio State University and chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, in the press release. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education.”

USC issued a statement Tuesday about the NCAA’s vote.

“The NCAA decision today is a step forward toward achieving a national framework for these critical issues,” the statement read. “We plan to work with California officials, the NCAA, the Pac-12 Conference and others to help develop reforms that support our student-athletes and allow them to continue to compete and excel.”

The NCAA’s statement clarifies that student-athletes are in no way employees of their respective universities and that the new rules should treat student-athletes similarly to non-athlete students. 

“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 in the press release. “The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”

The NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group provided recommendations to the NCAA’s top governing board, which helped guide their actions. 

The working group had been in communication for the past several months with administrators, commissioners, coaches and student-athletes across all three NCAA divisions. 

The group will continue to inform the Board of Governors about how to respond to state and federal legislation pushing for increased opportunities for student-athletes to earn compensation.

This article was updated at 7:39 p.m. Tuesday to include USC’s statement.