The NCAA has started the process of exploring ways to allow student-athletes to benefit from using their names, images and likenesses.
In an official statement released Tuesday, the NCAA Board of Governors wants all three divisions to "consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century." Board chair and Ohio State President Michael V. Drake noted:
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes. Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships."
The board provided principles and guidelines for the NCAA to follow, including assuring student-athletes receive similar treatment to non-athlete students "unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate," to "make clear that compensation for sports performance and participation is impermissible" and to protect the recruiting process.
The NCAA received feedback from a Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group that included university presidents, commissioners, athletic directors, administrators and student-athletes before moving forward with this process.
This process comes in the wake of California governor Gavin Newsom signing into law the Fair Pay to Play Act that will allow student-athletes to earn money off their name, likeness and image while in college. The law won't go into effect until January 2023.
In response to Newsom signing the Fair Pay to Play Act, Drake told ESPN's Dan Murphy the NCAA needed to modernize "to make sure we have 21st-century rules."
The board is asking each division to develop any rule changes immediately but no later than January 2021. The State Legislation Working Group will continue collecting feedback through April and will refine its recommendations.