NCAA clears athletes to earn money from their fame

Sports
NCAA clears athletes for compensation

FILE – In this March 12, 2020, file photo, the national office of the NCAA in Indianapolis is shown. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

DALLAS (AP) — The NCAA cleared the way for athletes to profit off their name Thursday, the eve of legislation becoming law in several states that would allow for such compensation.

The expected approval from the NCAA Board of Directors came a few days after a recommendation from the Division I Council to allow athletes in every state to pursue compensation for their name, image and likeness without jeopardizing their college eligibility.

The NCAA’s decision to suspend restrictions on payments to athletes for things such as sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances applies to all three divisions or some 460,000 athletes.

The NCAA also is allowing athletes to enter into agreements with agents while encouraging them to keep schools informed. The NCAA said schools are responsible “for determining whether those activities are consistent with state law.”

“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level.”

The NCAA wants to have federal laws or its own permanent rules regarding the issue known as NIL, but was forced to seek a temporary solution rather than have athletes in some states eligible for compensation while others were not.

More than 10 states have laws set to go into effect Thursday that would have undercut existing NCAA rules regarding such compensation for athletes. Indiana is not one of them.

Without NCAA action, athletes in some states could be making money without putting their college eligibility in jeopardy while their counterparts in other states could be in danger of breaking NCAA rules.

The NCAA’s stopgap measure comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the association in a case involving education-related benefits. That 9-0 ruling is expected to impact issues related to compensation for athletes.

“There is interest among my colleagues in light of the United State Supreme Court ruling that we need to study the topic,” said State Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis).

State Sen. Qaddoura said some of his fellow lawmakers are considering introducing such legislation next session.

“We have to be mindful of any unintended consequences,” Qaddoura said. “And we have to be mindful of the legalities of what came down from the United States Supreme Court ruling.”

Experts believe all 50 states will eventually pass NIL legislation.

“For most of these deals, we’re not talking about big dollars,” said Larry DeGaris, co-director for the Center for Sports Sponsorship at the University of Indianapolis

Despite the approval of endorsements, DeGaris said he doesn’t expect athletes to eventually be paid to play by their colleges and universities.

“Where we’re headed will be to provide more benefits to student-athletes, more freedom to student-athletes to pursue opportunities but still adapted solidly within the current framework,” DeGaris said.

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