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NCAA Board of Governors Supports NIL Rule Changes

Brock Fritz

The recommended changes to the NCAA’s name, image and likeness rules continue to pass the test.

The biggest hurdle was cleared this week, when the NCAA announced that the Board of Governors supports rule changes that would allow student-athletes to “receive compensation for third-party endorsements both related to and separate from athletics. It also supports compensation for other student-athlete opportunities, such as social media, businesses they have started and personal appearances within the guiding principles originally outlined by the board in October.”

Related content: NCAA Moving Toward Allowing Athlete Sponsorships

The Board of Governors voted unanimously last October to direct each of the NCAA’s three divisions to “immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century.” Since then, working groups have been developing recommendations, which will now go to the rules-making structure in each of the NCAA’s divisions for further consideration. The NCAA said that the divisions are expected to adopt new name, image and likeness rules by January, with the rules taking effect at the start of the 2021-22 academic year.

“Throughout our efforts to enhance support for college athletes, the NCAA has relied upon considerable feedback from and the engagement of our members, including numerous student-athletes, from all three divisions,” said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of Ohio State University, in Wednesday’s press release. “Allowing promotions and third-party endorsements is uncharted territory.”

Related content: NCAA Clears Way for Name, Image and Likeness Rules

The NCAA’s release said that the Board of Governors is “requiring guardrails around any future name, image and likeness activities. These would include no name, image and likeness activities that would be considered pay for play; no school or conference involvement; no use of name, image and likeness for recruiting by schools or boosters; and regulation of agents and advisors.”

A topic of discussion in recent years, the sentiment gained momentum when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the state’s “Fair Pay to Play Act” last September. Other states followed suit, while the NCAA set out to develop its own guidelines and work with the United States Congress to ensure that a universal policy could be established.

The board said that the rules may need to be adapted a bit within each NCAA division, while the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is also having an impact throughout college sports. Any NIL rule changes adopted by the three NCAA divisions must follow the following principles and guidelines:

  • Ensuring student-athletes are treated similarly to nonathlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
  • Maintaining the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
  • Ensuring rules are transparent, focused and enforceable, and facilitating fair and balanced competition.
  • Making clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
  • Making clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible. Reaffirming that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
  • Enhancing principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
  • Protecting the recruiting environment and prohibiting inducements to select, remain at or transfer to a specific institution.
  • The board relied on a comprehensive report from the Federal and State Legislation Working Group to inform its recommendations.

Related content: California Gov. Signs Landmark ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Bill

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