NCAA announces potential rule change allowing athletes to profit off name, likeness

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In just a few years, you could turn on the TV to a Lithia Ford advertisement and standing next to a new Ford truck is the quarterback of the Boise State football team telling you to “come down to Ford before their year-end clearance event is over.” While endorsements are not currently happening in the NCAA, your favorite college athlete could be on your screen in the near future. 

The NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously in favor of a new bill in California on Sept. 30, 2019. The bill permits student-athletes to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness. 

This decision ignited change. 

Not long after, on Oct. 29, 2019, the NCAA announced their plans to allow student-athletes to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness, leaving many people shocked. Though this discussion is not new, the NCAA has only made a small step in the direction of making this happen. 

The timeline of the bill that the NCAA issued for this potential change is unclear. 

The NCAA board has instructed three separate divisions to begin discussing how this change could still keep the clear contrast between college and professional sports. The board is requesting that the three divisions present new rules by January 2021, which will focus on making sure that student-athletes have the same opportunities to make money as a regular student does, as well as ensuring that the rules do not create a competitive imbalance. 

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said board chair Michael V. Drake in a statement issued by the NCAA. “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.”

In a very vague manner, the NCAA stated that these new rules need to follow the “collegiate  model,” meaning the new rules must comply with any old rules the NCAA has already implemented. Thus, there is a good chance that universities will be completely uninvolved with the endorsements, and student-athletes will be required to work endorsements on their own time. 

The California bill also explains that student-athletes can begin earning endorsements in the year of 2023; in turn, the rule change is affecting little to no athletes currently playing in the NCAA. 

Because the rule change will take three or more years to come into effect, the NCAA will, in theory, have plenty of time to take California to court and make changes to the bill.

Boise State’s associate athletic director of compliance, Matt Brewer, emphasized that it is a misconception that NCAA employees are “making fortunes” off of these student-athletes. Brewer stated that these athletes could be making more money than what is already provided in scholarship and extra expenses; some people view this as crossing the line between collegiate and professional athletics. 

“I know there’s a lot of people that’ll probably be changing careers if that’s where it goes, myself included,” Brewer said. “If I wanted to work in professional athletics, then I’d go work in professional athletics.”

This potential rule change could also ultimately change what a team sport looks like.

“If you individualize somebody and it’s all about that one particular player and you’re in a team sport, that’s probably where it’s not going to be very positive. How do you make it good for everyone involved?” said Boise State’s football head coach Bryan Harsin. “A few guys will get attention more than others, and I think everybody understands that. But if it’s your quarterback, what about your O-line? What about your tailbacks? What about the guys catching the ball? How do you utilize that the right way to still keep the team concept? Because if you don’t, then it becomes about a bunch of individuals and we’re not in that sport.”

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