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NCPA Asking NCAA to Make Rule Changes During Pandemic

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Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the National College Players Association is calling on the NCAA to make major changes to its rules. 

The player advocacy group is asking the NCAA to allow third parties the ability to pay for necessary student-athlete expenses, including food, rent, utilities and any out-of-pocket medical expenses, among other fees.

"COVID-19 is highlighting just how unjust NCAA rules are. We’re facing the prospect that many athletes in spring sports and now possibly those in fall sports are abiding by NCAA rules that will make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus’ economic fallout without getting to use their eligibility,” NCPA president Ramogi Huma said in a letter to the NCAA released Thursday. “Those who do play may be stuck paying their own medical coverage and expenses while facing a heightened risk of contracting coronavirus and passing it along to loved ones. In contrast, overpaid coaches and athletic directors aren’t worrying about their medical coverage.”

The NCPA is also asking the NCAA to allow college athletes to have immediate freedom to make money from their name, image and likeness. While in the last 12 months, a number of states have signed bills that will help the state's college athletes profit off their likenesses, such bills don't go into effect until January 1, 2023. 

In October, as a response to California's bill, the NCAA’s Board of Governors unanimously voted 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," but no concrete changes have been made since.

Sports Illustrated reported earlier this week that college football industry executives are "already creating contingency plans for a nuclear fall of no football."

We’re all effed,” one Power 5 athletic director who wished to remain anonymous told Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger. “There’s no other way to look at this, is there?”

“The discussion that ADs are having about fall sports being canceled is a very real possibility,” Huma recently told Sports Illustrated. “It’s extremely hard to imagine any football in the fall on any level.”

The group, which has no official power to try and shift the NCAA's policies, is also looking to ensure spring athletes are able to transfer without penalty if a school chooses not to guarantee their scholarship for the upcoming season. 

"If ever NCAA sports is going to treat players like people rather than property, it should absolutely be during this crisis," Huma said in Thursday's release. "Never has the NCAA’s archaic prohibitions been demonstrated to be more harmful than during the economic and physical toll that COVID-19 is reaping upon our nation.” 

On March 12, the NCAA canceled the 2020 men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments, as well as all other remaining winter and spring championships.

“If the NCAA and its conferences have the power to cancel March Madness and spring sports," Huma said, "they can implement these actions just as quickly.”