After an NCAA Board of Governors meeting today, the organization made what appeared to be a monumental announcement. Amid legislation across the country that aims to open up the opportunities for active college athletes to be paid, the NCAA has appeared to admit that it needs to update its rules.
This release has people very excited about what’s next, between those who are passionate about issues surrounding the rights of college athletes, and those who just want to play a new edition of the NCAA Football video game.
That response is getting pretty far ahead of the reality of what the NCAA has actually said. The language used in the organization’s release is intentionally vague, and pretty far from “Trevor Lawrence can get paid for sponsorship of a local car dealership.”
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) October 29, 2019
So let’s take a look at what this thing actually says.
Right off the bat, the phrase “benefit… in a manner consistent with the collegiate model” raises serious questions. The collegiate model doesn’t allow for players to be paid outside of their scholarship and full cost of attendance. That is obviously at serious odds with what people envision from an updated Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rule.
“In the Association’s continuing efforts to support college athletes, the NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”
The list of “principles and guidelines” that the NCAA says it must uphold with whatever rule it settles on also raise doubts over how comprehensive a new NCAA NIL rule will be.
Assure student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition.
Make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
Make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.
Reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
Enhance principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.
Would “ensuring a fair and balanced competition” place a hard cap on potential compensation? What does “impermissible” compensation for “athletics performance and participation” actually mean? Does that include sponsorships, or only hard pay-for-play payments?
The release does say that new rules would be established “no later than 2021,” so there is a timeframe here. It is just very unclear how far the NCAA will go on its own, but I would expect outside forces, like the state of California, to keep the pressure on in a big way.
There are obviously big questions to answer here, and broadly, this does seem like good news for those who want to see players compensated in some form. Just don’t hold your breath and expect the NCAA to capitulate to the most progressive versions of new NIL rules being floated out there.