The NCAA took a significant step in allowing players to profit off their likeness last week as the NCAA Board of Governors agreed to a plan that would allow student-athletes to profit off their name, likeness and image as long as the university they attend does not pay them directly.
This would allow student-athletes to receive compensation from social media and personal appearances, in addition to businesses that student-athletes start.
All three NCAA divisions are expected to adopt the rule by the 2021-2022 academic year.
There are stipulations to the rule, however, as the use of conference logos, school logos, trademarks or other school involvement would not be allowed, and a university or college could not directly pay athletes for using their name, image or likeness.
“Throughout our efforts to enhance support for college athletes, the NCAA has relied upon considerable feedback from and the engagement of our members, including numerous student-athletes, from all three divisions,” Board of Governors Chair Michael V. Drake, president of Ohio State University, said in a statement.
In October, the NCAA unanimously voted to support student-athletes receiving compensation, a move prompted by a bill signed in September by California governor Gavin Newsom. The bill will allow student athletes to sign endorsement deals and hire agents when it goes into effect in 2024. The rule change comes after years of debate over whether student-athletes should get paid.
Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of student-athletes led to NCAA football and basketball video games becoming defunct, and ramped up the debate on payment for players.
This rule change would not allow for the video games to come back due to the rules regarding school and conference logos.
While the NCAA voted for this rule to pass, the Board of Governors voted against a rule that would allow undergraduate players in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and hockey the same one-time transfer exception currently utilized by athletes in other collegiate sports.
Currently, athletes in those sports have to spend one year in residence before being declared eligible, unless they are able to obtain a waiver. Waivers have been increasingly easy to come by in recent years, especially for high-profile players.
This recommendation from the Board of Governors comes after the NCAA Transfer Waiver Working Group asked for feedback regarding the proposal back in February. The NCAA Council will still vote on the plan in May, and even if the council votes the proposal down, it isn’t dead and will simply be tabled until next year.
Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, the chair of the transfer working group, said that the pandemic could play a part in the recommendation.
If the transfer exemption rule doesn’t pass, it would come as a surprise to many, as it was almost universally expected to pass for this upcoming year, and teams recruited transfers on the assumption of its sucesss.
While the rule would benefit student-athletes, it has the potential to damage non-Group of Five schools in football and mid-major and low-major programs in basketball.
In basketball, players transferring up to power conference schools have become increasingly common in recent years, and if the one-time exemption passes, it would incentivize more players to take advantage as they would be able to play immediately.
It seems inevitable that the one-time transfer exemption rule will happen at some point in the near future.
Whether it’s this year or next year, the implications of this rule will be something to watch, especially with conference realignment coming up.