NCAA Moves Toward NIL Legislation

The NCAA Board of Governors has taken unprecedented steps to allow college athletes outside compensation for name, image and likeness
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The NCAA, after clinging to amateurism like a life preserver since its inception, took a massive step in the other direction on Wednesday.

After more than a decade trying to hold back the tide, the NCAA Board of Governors now supports rule changes to allow student-athletes to receive compensation from outside sources for their name, image and likeness.

The proposed new legislation falls short of returning the popular “NCAA Football” video games, which utilize university logos and trademarks.

Any new legislation would be considered by all three NCAA divisions.

As the legislative process continues, the deadline for final recommendations falls in October and will be voted on no later than January 2021. If passed, the legislation will take effect for the 2021-22 academic year.

According to the NCAA timeline, the movement began in 2009 when former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller filed a lawsuit “against the NCAA, Electronic Arts Inc. and the Collegiate Licensing Company objecting to the use of likenesses of former student-athletes in archival footage, as avatars (in video games), in photographs and promotions.”

Former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon filed a similar suit later that year. In 2010, those cases and others were consolidated in U.S. District Court.

In the last two years, several states have proposed and even passed legislation to develop a plan to compensate college athletes. As that surge rose, the NCAA began to come around to the idea of allowing student-athletes to make money from outside sources.

Included in Wednesday’s proposal, the NCAA asked Congress for protection from state NIL laws.

According to the NCAA’s statement on Wednesday, “Any changes adopted by the divisions must be in concert with 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.”

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