NCAA backs plan to allow college athletes to cash in on name, image and likeness
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The NCAA announced on Wednesday that it is moving forward with a plan to allow college athletes to profit from third-party endorsements and other activities that use their name, image and likeness.

The plan, which could have significant implications for the structure of collegiate sports, comes as the organization faces increasing pressure from state and federal lawmakers to adapt its model to allow college athletes to earn compensation.

The NCAA has held that the new rules will be implemented in a manner "consistent with the collegiate model," which critics say won't allow athletes to profit in a free market. 

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The NCAA Board of Governors said in a statement that it would direct all three collegiate divisions to consider rule changes recommended by its federal and state legislation working group. The recommendations include allowing athletes to earn compensation through endorsements and other personal activities, such as social media content, businesses they've started and personal appearances. 

The divisions are expected to adopt the new rules by the start of the 2021-22 academic year. Many of the details regarding the rules need to be worked out between now and then. Member schools are expected to vote on new guidelines in January.

“Allowing promotions and third-party endorsements is uncharted territory," Michael Drake, chairman of the NCAA governing board and president of Ohio State, said. 

The NCAA board said that it would require a set of "guardrails" to prevent any school or conference involvement in athlete compensation. The new rules would also bar the use of name, image and likeness for recruiting by schools or boosters. 

The NCAA developed a working group to assess issues over athletes profiting from their name, image and likeness in 2019. And in recent years, lawmakers have become increasingly vocal about the need for NCAA bylaws banning athlete compensation to change. 

In 2019, California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomWalmart reverses decision to remove guns, ammo from sales floors ICE agents told to be ready for unrest in DC on Election Day California governor preparing state for civil unrest following election MORE (D) signed a law that would make it easier for student-athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. Several other states have introduced similar legislation. 

Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerWant to prevent Democrat destruction? Save our Senate Joe Biden has long forgotten North Carolina: Today's visit is too late Mike Johnson to run for vice chairman of House GOP conference MORE (R-N.C.) has also introduced a federal bill to erase the restriction barring student-athletes from such compensation. 

In February, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade and Consumer Protection held its first ever hearing on the issue. Lawmakers pressed NCAA leaders to move quickly to change its rules. 

The NCAA's governing body said in its news release Wednesday that it would ask Congress to ensure a federal bill preempted state laws surrounding the issue. The board claims that a variety of state laws could "significantly undermine the NCAA’s ability to take meaningful action."

The board also said that it would engage with Congress about establishing an antitrust exemption. 

“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 a 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."