The NCAA Board of Governors voted yesterday to unanimously let college athletes get paid for their names, images, and likenesses.

The vote was in response the new California law Fair Pay to Play Act(Senate Bill 206) set to go into effect in January of 2023 which says, “A postsecondary educational institution shall not uphold any rule, requirement, standard, or other limitation that prevents a student of that institution participating in intercollegiate athletics from earning compensation as a result of the use of the student’s name, image, or likeness. Earning compensation from the use of a student’s name, image, or likeness shall not affect the student’s scholarship eligibility”.

The issue with the California bill, according to the NCAA, is that it looks unconstitutional. The NCAA went on to state, “The action taken by California likely is unconstitutional, and the actions proposed by other states make clear the harmful impact of disparate sets of state laws. The NCAA is closely monitoring the approaches taken by state governments and the U.S. Congress and is considering all potential next steps”.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “Structuring a model for allowing students to monetize a name, image and likeness while maintaining some recruiting balance is one of the biggest and hardest issues that everyone’s dealing with. Figuring out all the details of it, it’s going to be a challenge. It’s a much more complex issue than most people see it as. I think schools are going to be able to work through this process and come up with rules that makes great sense for the student-athletes and allow universities to continue their collegiate model of athletics”.

In its press release yesterday the NCAA wanted to make sure the following principles and guidelines are to be adhered to:

  • Assure student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate
  • Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
  • Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition
  • Make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
  • Make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.
  • Reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
  • Enhance principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
  • Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.

There is growing concern that each state will attempt to create its own rules for college athletes’ compensation instead of an acceptable standard. The preference would be to create a commonly acceptable standard and establish a best practices approach before things get too far out of control.