By Gerald Hopkins
On Oct. 29, the NCAA’s Board of Governors unanimously voted to work towards giving student-athletes opportunities to profit off of their name, image, and likeness.
This announcement comes just a month after California governor Gavin Newsom signed law SB-206 or better known as the ‘Fair Pay to Play Act’ which was signed on Lebron James’ HBO show The Shop. This bill was seen as a direct threat to the NCAA, the collegiate model, and the definition of a student-athlete.
While the vote has been seen as a major win for student-athletes across the NCAA, they are technically still not allowed to make any money off of their name image and likeness, as the board they assigned to work on creating rules is working to push these rules out as soon as possible. The NCAA stated that these rules would be out “no later than January 2021”.
This is a very uncharacteristic move by the NCAA, which has been notorious for their definition of the “student-athlete” and how against they have been players making any money while they perform under the NCAA, which makes millions from the television deals and other massive sponsorships. If you don’t believe me, count how many different sponsors the March Madness tournament has while watching one of the games.
One of the many issues that I have with this proposal is how athletes and schools may use this to sway recruits with opportunities to immediately get students to make money from their image. Schools may give businesses money or other incentives to make sure student-athletes get some of their higher-profile recruits more money than other schools may have the chance to offer. Many schools have some form of illegal markets that give players money in the first place, this could just make that same market legal.
Another problem I have with this bill is that this bill is only going to help the school’s biggest sports and will do little to nothing for many of the other athletes that will be participating in the universities. Companies are going to try to get the images of those athletes who are the most notable, as that is what is going to make those businesses money. This could end up being very problematic in the sense that those athletes who work as hard will not get these opportunities because they don’t get the same TV time or coverage as other sports in the area.
Another gripe I have with this proposal is that there is little to no mention of how players are going to be advised or have any source of representation during this process. The NCAA already has rules in place that student-athletes with representation or marketing by a professional sports agent lose their amateur status, and because of it cannot participate in an NCAA game after they acquire this representation. If a student is to be offered by companies to have their likeness used, who is going to help them through these processes? One of the many reasons that professionals have this representation is to make sure that they have someone read over the contracts and advise them through there career, and without that, it leaves student-athletes vulnerable to signing poor and regrettable deals. This is especially important because the NCAA’s persistent that student-athletes are students first, so to make students read through their contracts and other business seems like a lack of care and goes against that student’s first belief.
While there is no perfect solution to the dilemma of college athletes getting paid for their likeness or getting paid in general, there are better ways that the NCAA can go about this. One of these ways would be that students make money off of sponsorships that the school has with other organizations, as this would make it easier to work to set rules and even minimums and maximums that student-athletes can make from the endorsements. This would also be a step in working towards making sure all student-athletes are getting paid, not just a few from the big sports.
Another way they could go about this would be to pay student-athletes. While this isn’t a perfect solution and has its own sets of problems, if the NCAA is willing to let students make money, it might as well make it even. If the NCAA were to make it where registered athletes make for example $2,000 per semester or a set figure, and in return, the NCAA retains rights and other things that the it would want, this could work to give all of the athletes something for the extensive time commitment. As time commitment can make it next to impossible for students to make money for themselves, as they wear uniforms and look at the sponsorships that the school they play from profits from.
In typical NCAA fashion, its late to the party on this one. While this move towards student-athletes profiting from the name, image, and likeness is a positive step for these athletes, it could be so much better. The NCAA has tough decisions to make when it comes to these rules and judging from there past, I’m not to confidence in how it is going to turn out.
For the official press release, click here.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org