NCAA Unanimously Votes to Allow Athletes to ‘Benefit From Their Likeness’

College athletes are one step closer to the day when they’re allowed to get paid for their likeness.

The NCAA announced today that its board of governors voted unanimously to allow student athletes the opportunity to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.” At the direction of the board, the association’s three divisions will now begin to consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” NCAA board of governors chair Michael Drake said in a statement. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”

The NCAA board stated the divisions will need to consider several things upon updating the principles and guidelines, including ensuring there is a “distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities,” making clear that “compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible” and working to protect recruiting and “prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.”

Although the fight to allow student athletes to receive compensation for their likeness has been going on for years, it secured a massive win on Sept. 30 when California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law California Senate Bill 206, referred to as the Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow students at public and private universities to use their notoriety to secure endorsement deals. Newsom made it official on an episode of HBO’s “The Shop” alongside NBA star LeBron James, who has been a vocal supporter of the bill. The law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Famed sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro told FN in September that he believes SB 206 and others like it could stop brand executives from giving high-profile athletes and their families money under the table, a problem that has long plagued college sports.

“This will help the NCAA and their sports. Because no one will do anything undercover, you won’t have another [situation like the one] between Louisville and Adidas,” Vaccaro said. “[Brands are] not going to be a sinful partner; they won’t be violating [anybodies’ rights]. It just makes life fair.”

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