NCAA moves ahead with rule change

Athletes may be eligible to receive compensation for their likeness as soon as 2021

By Jake Geiger | Staff Writer

Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer The NCAA began the process of modifying its bylaws to allow student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of the likeness. The changes are expected to happen across all three NCAA divisons, starting in 2021.

The NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to begin the process of modifying its rules to allow student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their likeness. The board said in a statement last Tuesday that the rule changes should help provide student-athletes the same opportunities to make money as their peers.

The announcement comes after California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill in September that allowed college athletes from California to accept endorsement deals by 2023. The NCAA initially voiced disagreement with the bill, claiming it was “unconstitutional.” However, after other governors, such as Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis expressed support for the bill, the NCAA announced that student-athletes will soon “benefit from their name, image and likeness.”

Other legislators in Congress did not share the same sentiment. Nearly an hour after the potential changes were announced, Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) tweeted his opposition to the measure: “If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income.” Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) expressed his concern about “athletes on campus driving around in Ferraris while everybody is basically having a hard time making ends meet.”

Starting in 2021, NCAA athletes in all three divisions of collegiate sports will be able to receive benefits from outside companies and organizations.

Controversy has arisen from how the landscape of NCAA athletics will be changed with the implementation of this rule.

The image of the NCAA has been under heavy scrutiny in the past over compensation ofor its athletes. Luke Williams, a sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public major, was in favor of the NCAA’s decision to pay college athletes, not only because of the monetary considerations but also the bonds these athletes form with each other through their experience.

“While some students may feel that it is unfair that student-athletes receive compensation for their work on the field or court,” Williams said, “the reality is that athletes deserve it.”

“To me, the fact that the NCAA was allowed to reap all the financial benefits of the extreme hard work put in by student-athletes is a shame. The decision by the NCAA to pay athletes is long overdue,” he said.

The change leaves the potential for student-athletes to get athletic sponsorship deals from corporations and local businesses.

According to Virginia O’Keefe, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor and branding expert, companies such as Under Armour, Nike and Adidas could be more selective with their processes.

“In the marketing offices of Nike and Under Armour, they’re looking at individual athletes and programs who have the most promising records and who look like a good bet for the future,” she said.

O’Keefe also mentioned that all athletes, not just top-tier athletes, could stand to benefit from this new deal. “Dayton has a good (college) basketball team, but their players aren’t known outside the local level. But in Dayton, they’re heroes. So, if I’m a car dealer, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to sponsor a local athlete,” she said. 

 Michael Drake, the chair of the NCAA Board of Governors and also the president of Ohio State University, said that the image of the NCAA and its student athletes needed to improve.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Drake said.