The NCAA made headlines recently when they chose to allow their student-athletes the opportunity to cash in on their likeness and image. This decision came after many long years of the NCAA facing social pressure to compensate their athletes, and presents a monumental shift in the landscape of amateur athletics.
On October 29, the NCAA released a statement regarding their decision, the full version of which can be read here:
“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.” This ruling by the NCAA comes on the heels of Bill SB206 passed in California that requires universities in the state to allow their athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness.
“The NCAA’s announcement was vague, but it had to be because they haven’t reached any conclusions,” said Len Elmore, former NBA player, sports broadcaster, and now a professor at Columbia University’s Sports Management Program. “Yet they did realize they had to do something. Name, image, and likeness, unlike athletic performance, is your natural property right.”
The passing of this bill has truly opened the floodgates as it relates to college recruiting. Gone are the days of student-athletes being unable to profit off their image or likeness and the universities solely reaping the financial benefits. The NCAA is working on a system to put in place that gives players the right to be compensated for any use of their image or likeness, from game footage or pictures of them, to the use of their name on replica jerseys being sold by the university.
According to Greta Anderson at Inside Higher Ed:
“The NCAA has long drawn a line between collegiate and professional sports by upholding its definition of amateurism and disallowing payment to athletes, other than in the form of colleges paying for the full cost of attendance or providing other types of scholarships. But the association began to ease its opposition and created a working group in May to explore how it could adjust bylaws to allow athletes to be compensated while maintaining “its belief that student-athletes are students first.”
Something else to consider is how the passing of Bill SB206 will impact the culture in college athletics. Here is something to think about: there is a highly touted quarterback being recruited to play at XYZ university. That quarterback is offered a significant amount of money to participate in three radio commercials for a local car dealership once he steps on campus. Then you have an offensive lineman who is responsible for blocking and keeping that quarterback from getting injured, but the lineman is not receiving the same monetary benefit. Will this cause disruption in the locker room among teammates?
It will be very interesting to see how the effects of this legislature will factor into the landscape of college athletics, as well as high school recruiting. The college game as we know it more than likely will never be the same, and disruption in amateur athletics is upon us.