NCAA to take step toward letting players cash in on likeness

The NCAA may, at long last, be blinking, admitting its archaic amateur model needs to be significantly tweaked. A Wednesday morning conference call with president Mark Emmert, other NCAA decision-makers and media members has been called to offer insight into what guidelines the NCAA working group has suggested be used for name, image and likeness rules for student-athletes.

ESPN, citing sources, reported Tuesday the working group wants to allow students to make money through endorsements and advertisements, modeling apparel and the use of an agent, but not by using the school’s logo or “school marks” in these endeavors.

Athletes would not be allowed to market anything that clashes with NCAA legislation or school values, like gambling or illegal substances. Athletes would also be allowed to work with agents, but only to help them market themselves. Students-athletes would be required to tell their respective school’s athletic department the details of these arrangements. It hasn’t been determined yet by the working group if a third party needs to be involved to make sure endorsement or advertisement deals aren’t being used as an illegal way of recruiting players to specific schools.

NCAA president Mark EmmertAP

The working group, appointed six months ago to offer its insight into how athletes can be compensated without a distinction being made between college and pro sports, presented its recommendation to the Division I Council last week and again to the Board of Governors on Tuesday, according to ESPN. This doesn’t necessarily mean the suggestions will go into effect. The NCAA and its members will review these guidelines over the next several months before adding their own input prior to a vote.

The NCAA, it should be noted, has been pushed in this direction. College basketball has seen elite players leave for the professional ranks in recent years, and now the G-League has landed three of the nation’s top prospects — Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix — to play on its “select team” for as much as $500,000 for one year. Even more significant, public officials have pushed the envelope. California adopted a law in September that banned schools in its state from preventing college athletes from accepting endorsement deals, autograph signings and social media advertising. Several other states followed California, introducing similar bills. The California bill doesn’t go into effect until 2023.

The NCAA responded by stating that such laws would contradict its rules and lead to athletes being ruled ineligible and disqualify select schools from competing. It has expressed a desire to work with Congress for uniform name, image and likeness rules instead of state-by-state parameters.

“There’s no question the legislative efforts in Congress and various states has been a catalyst to change,” Emmert said previously. “It’s clear that schools and the presidents are listening and have heard loud and clear that everyone agrees this is an area that needs to be addressed.”

It appears the NCAA is ready to finally move on this issue. It remains to be seen if this will satisfy legislators.

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