Solomon Young said endorsement money could facilitate his mother seeing play in person for the first time Des Moines Register
The NCAA took a dramatic step Wednesday toward allowing college athletes to earn income for things like product endorsements and social media content when its Board of Governors approved a broad set of recommendations to address an issue that has put college sports leaders under significant political pressure over the last year.
With state legislatures across the country passing or looking into laws that would allow for college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness and members of Congress also sounding the alarm on the issue, what the NCAA announced Wednesday represents a significant change from prior NCAA policy.
“Allowing promotions and third-party endorsements is uncharted territory," Ohio State president and Board of Governors chairman Michael Drake said in a release.
Still, it’s unclear whether the NCAA’s action to broaden name, image and likeness rights will be enough to get lawmakers to back down. Though the working group presented broad recommendations that would be seen as a significant win for college athletes’ rights, there are several details that remain unresolved on exactly how the new rules would be written and enforced.
The process of codifying those recommendations into NCAA legislation will occur over the course of 2020, with an expected vote happening at the next NCAA convention in January.
“While we wait optimistically for changes, we’ve been down this road before,” said state representative Chip LaMarca, who sponsored the Florida bill that passed in March and is waiting for a signature from Gov. Ron DeSantis. “It is my hope that this is not another hidden ball trick allowing the NCAA to punt this issue down the field. With this global pandemic challenging our economy, now more than ever we must give flexibility to all students to both continue their education and provide for themselves and their families.”
As revolutionary as they are within the college sports ecosystem, the NCAA’s recommendations will not come without critics.
One of the major points of contention will be regulation of potential marketing deals for college athletes. The NCAA working group has recommended that any financial transactions be disclosed to the schools and that the fees for those activities should be within an established range of market values.
In other words, if an average commercial for a car dealership is worth $50,000, a college athlete being offered $500,000 would potentially raise a red flag. How those issues are adjudicated will be watched closely, and some NCAA critics will argue it shouldn't be regulated at all. From the beginning, the NCAA has maintained that it does not want money associated with name, image and likeness rights to be a proxy for recruiting athletes to a particular school.
The recommendations also do not deal with the notion of group licensing rights, which would be key to a revival of the EA Sports college football video game, for instance.
The NCAA's release Wednesday calls on Congress to pass a law that would "ensure federal preemption over state name, image and likeness laws" and established a "safe harbor" for protection against lawsuits filed against the NCAA over name, image and likeness rules.