Report: NCAA Group to Propose Changes to Allow Athletes to be Paid by Sponsors

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An NCAA working group plans to suggest changes at a board meeting Tuesday that would allow student athletes to be paid for sponsorships and endorsements, according to ESPN.

The NCAA Board of Governors will conduct a press conference. Wednesday morning to release its findings. 

Six months ago, the NCAA Board of Governors tasked a working group with figuring out how student athletes could get paid but still draw a line between college and professional sports. The NCAA will have several months to review the recommendations and suggest changes before it goes to a vote, which would likely occur in January.

According to ESPN, the working group plans to recommend several changes, including allowing student athletes to model apparel as long as it doesn't feature school logos. Athletes could potentially be paid to appear in advertisements and say they're in college but could not reveal which school they play for. 

The possible rules recommendations reportedly include allowing athletes to hire agents to help them find marketing opportunities, but the agent cannot seek professional sports opportunities for them while they're in school. Athletes would be required to report the details of their endorsement deals to their athletic departments. Student athletes could not endorse products like banned substances which conflict with NCAA rules, per ESPN.

The battle for student athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) has been waging for many years. The NCAA was forced to act more recently due to pressure at the state levels. In September 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. The Act, which doesn't go into effect until 2023, makes it illegal for California colleges to deny student athletes opportunities to gain compensation for NIL.

Multiple states have proposed similar bills since, and a bill in Florida could go into effect in July 2021 if signed by the governor. The NCAA has even gone to Congress about creating national guidelines for NIL rather than having various laws in different states. ESPN reports the NCAA proposals would be "more restrictive" than California's Fair Pay to Play Act. 

The NCAA could reportedly allow athletes to accept endorsement money from boosters, but worries persist over boosters using the opportunity to try to recruit players for their schools. An idea proposed at previous meetings included the NCAA creating a regulatory board to "determine the fair value" of deals and make sure athletes stay within the appropriate bounds. If athletes report their endorsement earnings, the board would reportedly flag excessive deals as a violation. NCAA president Mark Emmert said in January that he didn't know if the league or a third party would regulate the market.