Sometimes it takes people a little longer to evolve in their thoughts. Other times it takes an anvil over the head to help that evolution to kick in. I think it was the latter for the NCAA when it came to athletes making money off of their likeness. Whatever it took, it is now happening for college athletes. The NCAA is now going to allow student-athletes to make money off of their likeness.
It almost feels like hell is freezing over for this to be happening. The NCAA has been absolutely opposed to this idea of their athletes making money off of their likeness. You would hear NCAA officials say it goes against the ideals of amateurism or it would open a Pandora’s Box of trouble. However, at the same time the NCAA would be raking in billions from television contracts, game revenue, bowl games, and the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
This argument was at the center of Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit that he brought against the NCAA. O’Bannon wanted college athletes to be able to receive money from their images being used in video games and broadcasts.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled back in 2014 that the NCAA could not keep college athletes from selling the rights to their names, images, and likenesses.
Fast forward to 2020.
While the NCAA has proposed letting the student-athletes make money off of their likeness, images, and name the NCAA’s proposal is a pretty narrow change.
The NCAA would request a federal exemption that would provide protection for the NCAA over lawsuits that pertain to a player’s image, likeness, and name. It is almost like the NCAA needs its own “safe space”.
I thought it was all about the student-athletes to the NCAA?
Apparently, not. Here’s why.
The NCAA will continue to lobby Congress to override state laws that allow student-athletes to get paid off of their images, likeness, and name. In 2019, California was the first state to allow student-athletes to get paid. Colorado then passed a similar law. There are also 30 states that are considering passing a similar law to California.
All it takes is one to create a crack in the dam. California created that crack in the dam that put the NCAA on notice.
The evolution on this topic should have started five or six years ago when Judge Wilken ruled that players could make money off their likenesses.
However, we are talking about the NCAA. The NCAA is a huge red-tape monstrosity of an organization. Change is difficult for most people. It’s downright impossible for a massive entity like the NCAA.
Even with this new proposal the NCAA still needs to answer the question of how this is going to work in practice before it puts this to a vote in 2021. Still, this is a major change in thought for the large non-profit.
“Allowing promotions and third-party endorsements is uncharted territory.” said Michael Drake who is the President of Ohio State University.
If this plan is passed once the NCAA votes it would allow student-athletes to earn unlimited amounts of money from the likeness, sports camps, or other business agreements. It would not allow students to use any university logo or trademarks in their endorsements.
In the end, there are many issues that need to be ironed out before any of this get put into practice. It will give college athletics a different feel for sure.