The NCAA is finally acknowledging the push to allow college athletes to receive pay from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Both federal and state lawmakers have introduced bills seeking to allow college athletes to profit from their NIL. On May 14, the NCAA shocked college sports fans when they announced their creation of a working group to "examine issues being highlighted in recently proposed federal and state legislation related to student-athletes' name, image, and likeness."
With this announcement, the NCAA acknowledged the growing support for allowing college athletes' to profit from their NIL. Some of the efforts have made quite a bit of progress. However, will the NCAA's acknowledgment of this issue actually lead to real change that benefits college athletes? Will the NCAA finally do the right thing and allow college athletes to finally receive some of the benefits that their skills provide to so many coaches and college sports administrators?
College Athletes Give up the Right Profit From NIL When They Agree to Play
One may wonder why such legislation is even necessary. It would seem that people would automatically receive compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness. However, that is not the case for college athletes. College athletes are prohibited from profiting from the use of their name, image, or likeness. Those who violate the rules risk losing their eligibility. College athletes have been suspended something as simple as signing an autograph. In 2013, Johnny Manziel was suspended for doing just that.
The ability of college athletes to profit from their NIL was addressed in federal court in O'Bannon v. NCAA. While the case made some progress for college athletes, it did not result in blanket allowance of NIL compensation. Both federal and state lawmakers around the country have acknowledged the injustice of precluding college athletes from such compensation while the NCAA and its member schools generate billions of dollars each year from college sports.
Will the NCAA's Working Group Result in NIL Compensation
Will the NCAA's working group result in NIL compensation for college athletes? Initially, it would seem that the NCAA will do what it always does. That is, find a way to avoid allowing college athletes to receive any compensation in the name of maintaining its farce of "amateurism." After all, in the press release, the NCAA stated that the working group would be focused on "maintain[ing] the clear demarcation between professional and college sports."
Allowing college athletes to profit from their NIL would certainly blur that line. College athletes would be able to sign endorsement deals similar to professional athletes. However, it is hard to imagine that it would blur the line any more than the billion-dollar broadcasting deal the NCAA has with CBS Sports and Tuner, a division of Time Warner already has. It clearly benefits the NCAA and college sports administrators for things to remain as they are. However, the creation of the working group signals that fact that the NCAA realizes that it needs to act before it is forced to act. The NCAA could be forced to act soon.
California Legislation Could Really Become Law: NCAA Athletes Pay
The bill is headed to the state Assembly for further consideration. The bill seeks to allow college athletes to hire agents and profit from their NIL by 2023. The Fair Pay for Play Act will make it illegal for California colleges to punish college athletes for receiving compensation for their name, image, and likeness. If this Act makes it through the state Assembly, the NCAA would be forced to change its rules, at least for colleges in California.
The Federal Legislation Could Affect the NCAA's Non-profit Status
In March, Congressman Mark Walker of North Carolina introduced the Student-Athlete Equity Act. If signed into law, the act will make the NCAA's status as a non-profit contingent on the NCAA allowing college athletes to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness. It is about time the NCAA be forced to actually do something to warrant still being considered a non-profit. The Act is currently under review by the House Ways and Means Committee. If this bill becomes law, the NCAA will have to change its rules for colleges nationwide.
The NCAA may Enact Change Given the Progress of the Proposed Legislation
Considering the progress of the Fair Pay for Play Act and the Student-Athlete Equity Act, the NCAA may actually feel forced to revise its rules. In an effort to avoid being told what to do, the NCAA may revise their rules to allow college athletes to receive some compensation. Furthermore, 2020 democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang believes that is time to pay college athletes. He plans to make the issue apart of his campaign. Here again, a politician is taking a stance against the NCAA's exploitive system. The issue of paying college athletes is going to continue to grow. With that realization, the NCAA may actually revise its rules in order to maintain its control.