The NCAA has eliminated a release granting permission for the NCAA, a school or conference to use athletes' names, images or likenesses to promote events without compensating them, reports USA Today Sports' Dan Wolken and Steve Berkowitz.
The release was part of the Student-Athlete Statement, which includes other releases related to amateurism rules and the disclosure of education records.
The 2013-14 version of the statement instructs athletes to sign and return it to their director of athletics before they "first compete" each year.
Athletes are allegedly required to sign the form to be eligible for competition, according to testimony last month in the Ed O'Bannon antitrust lawsuit over the NCAA's commercial use of college athletes' NILs.
The college governing body, however, has said that athletes were not required to sign that portion of the form as a condition of eligibility.
USA Today Sports obtained an email sent by NCAA director of academic and membership affairs Kris Richardson:
"Usually, the NCAA Student-Athlete Statement does not have many changes from one year to the next," the e-mail says. "This year, however, the 'Promotion of NCAA Championships, Events, Activities, or Programs' section has been recommended for removal from the form. … [T]hat section, unlike the other sections of the NCAA Student-Athlete Statement, is not a mandatory component for purposes of eligibility. Because student-athletes are not required to complete that section in order to maintain eligibility, it has been recommended for removal from the NCAA Student-Athlete Statement, beginning with the 2014-15 version of the form."
The reported removal of the release touches upon a fundamental point in the O'Bannon case: whether athletes lawfully transfer their NIL rights to their school, conference or the NCAA.
- Chris Johnson