NCAA to allow third-party compensation for athletes starting in 2021-22 academic year

Posted 5/8/20

After years of resisting allowing payment of athletes, America’s universities are on the verge of giving a little bit.

The NCAA Board of Governors has supported rule changes that would allow …

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NCAA to allow third-party compensation for athletes starting in 2021-22 academic year

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Posted

After years of resisting allowing payment of athletes, America’s universities are on the verge of giving a little bit.

The NCAA Board of Governors has supported rule changes that would allow student-athletes to be paid for “third-party endorsements both related to and separate from athletics,” the organization said in a press release last Wednesday. Individuals could identify themselves by sport and school, but schools should not pay them for using their names and likenesses.

The NCAA’s three divisions are expected to adopt the rules changes by January, with the stipulations taking effect at the start of the 2021-22 academic year.

Michael V. Drake, the Board of Governors’ chairman and president of Ohio State University, called the move “uncharted territory” and said the NCAA would engage with Congress on “moderniz(ing) our rules around name, image and likeness.”

“We will do so in a way that underscores the Association’s mission to oversee and protect college athletics and college athletes on a national scale,” Drake said in the news release.

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Chatham County’s representative in Congress, has been vocal within the last year about his desire to allow student-athletes to be compensated for use of their name, image and/or likeness. He released a statement last Wednesday saying the move could be one of two things.

“Today is either the day that a wall of injustice around student-athletes started to crumble, or the day the NCAA used more tactics to bait and switch young men and women from some of America’s most vulnerable communities,” Walker said in the statement. “My hope is the former and that the proposal on name, image, and likeness is genuine. If enacted in good faith, this move will save the college sports we love by creating equity, transparency, and opportunity.”

Walker introduced a piece of legislation last year — the Student-Athlete Equality Act — with U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) to change the definition of a “qualified amateur sports organization” in the U.S. tax code “to remove the restriction on student-athletes using or being compensated for use of their name, image and likeness — forcing the NCAA to change its current model,” the press release stated.

The NCAA’s board of governors said it will be seeking a “safe harbor” for the organization “to provide protection against lawsuits filed for name, image and likeness rules” and “ensuring federal preemption over state name, image and likeness laws.” Last October, California lawmakers passed a law that would allow student-athletes in the state to sign endorsement deals. The rule would go into effect in 2023.

Walker said he was concerned about the organization’s “implied request” for “anti-trust exemptions.”

“The NCAA has spent decades using their lawyers to keep young men and women from receiving basic constitutional rights, even as they grew to a billion-dollar-a-year organization,” he said. “I am sure those same lawyers can help them navigate this action without congressional intervention.”

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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