The National College Athletic Association will allow US college athletes to profit from their names, a move that comes amid pressure from players and lawmakers.
The NCAA’s board of governors, its top governance body, said Tuesday it voted unanimously to give student athletes the opportunity to earn money from the “use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model”.
Each of the NCAA’s three division will create any necessary changes to their bylaws and policies no later than January 2021.
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said Michael Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University.
“Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernisation 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 vote was seen as a key step towards allowing student athletes to be paid during their collegiate careers. Athletes are compensated in the form of stipends and scholarships, but do not receive salaries from their schools. The NCAA, which represents 450,000 athletes, had also barred individual endorsement or licensing deals.
California lawmakers approved a law, set to take effect in 2023, that would prevent schools from kicking athletes off teams or pulling scholarships if they sign endorsement deals. Other states have considered similar measures. Florida governor Ron DeSantis has backed an effort in his state to allow student athletes to make money from their fame.
“Modernisation” of the NCAA’s rules will maintain that compensation for athletes’ participation is impermissible, according to a list of principles provided by the board of governors.
A working group established by the NCAA will continue to collect input through April “on how best to respond to the state and federal legislative environment and to refine its recommendations on the principles and regulatory framework”, the board said in its statement.