While Tiger fans, like all other fan bases around the world, wait anxiously to see when or even if, there will be any football or athletics as a whole this year, the NCAA is moving forward with plans to allow not only Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and other Clemson athletes to get paid, but college athletes across the board.

The NCAA announced in a press release Wednesday morning that its board of governors does support the rule changes that will allow athletes to benefit from third party endorsements and more.

Reports started surfacing last week that said that some of the activities allowed could be athletes being able to host skills camps and benefit monetarily from them. This would be in addition to advertisements for local businesses and more.

The NCAA would set up a board to monitor whether or not athletes are getting fair market value for compensation and would report improper deals. These changes would be adopted in January 2021 and go into effect at the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year after.

During it’s meeting this week the Board of Governors voted to support rule changes to allow student athletes to receive compensation for third party endorsements, both related to, and separate from athletics. It also supports compensation for other student athlete opportunities.

For example, social media, businesses they have started, and personal appearances within the guiding principles originally outlined by the board in October.

While student athletes would be permitted to identify themselves by sport and school, the use of conference and school logos, trademarks, or other involvement would not be allowed.

The board also emphasized that at no point should a university or college pay student athletes for their name, image, and likeness activities. The board directed all three divisions to consider appropriate rules changes based on recommendations from its Federal and State Legislation Working Groups.

Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of Ohio State went on record saying…

“Throughout our efforts to enhance support for college athletes, the NCAA has relied upon considerable feedback from and the engagement of our members. Including numerous student-athletes from all three divisions. Allowing promotions and third party endorsements is uncharted territory.”

The board’s recommendations now move to the rules making structure in each of the NCAA’s three divisions for additional consideration. The divisions are expected to adopt new name, image, and likeness rules by January so they can take effect at the start of the 2021-22 academic year.

One thing the board is requiring would be guardrails around any future name, image, and likeness activities. These would include no name, image, and likeness activities that would be considered pay for play. There is to be no school or conference involvement, no use of name, image, and likeness for recruiting by schools or boosters, and the regulation of agents and advisors.

This board’s action is the latest step by the NCAA to support college athletes and modernize its rules regarding name, image, and likeness. In October, the board identified guiding principles to ensure that any changes support college sports as a part of higher education. Any changes adopted by the divisions must be in concert with the following principles and guidelines:

  • Ensuring student athletes are treated similarly to nonathlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
  • Maintaining the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student athlete success.
  • Ensuring rules are transparent, focused and enforceable, and facilitating fair and balanced competition.
  • Making clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
  • Making clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.
  • Reaffirming that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
  • Enhancing principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
  • Protecting the recruiting environment and prohibiting inducements to select, remain at or transfer to a specific institution.

Gene Smith, Ohio State senior Vice President, athletics director, and working group co-chair had this to say about the changes:

“The NCAA’s work to modernize name, image, and likeness continues and we plan to make these important changes on the original timeline no later than January 2021. The board’s decision today provides further guidance to each division as they create and adopt appropriate rules changes.”

The working group did recognize that the rules needed to accomplish the modifications may differ by division and stressed the need for appropriate regulation in the future. Val Ackerman, commissioner of the Big East and working group co-chair, stated…

“As we evolve, the Association will continue to identify the guardrails to further support student athletes within the context of college sports and higher education. In addition, we are mindful of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education, college sports, and students at large. We hope that modernized name, image, and likeness rules will further assist college athletes during these unprecedented times and beyond.”

Another issue discussed by the board are the potential challenges to modernizing rules posed by outside legal and legislative factors that could significantly undermine the NCAA’s ability to take meaningful action. For this issue it will engage Congress to take steps that include the following:

  • Ensuring federal preemption over state name, image, and likeness laws.
  • Establishing a “safe harbor” for the Association to provide protection against lawsuits filed for name, image, and likeness rules.
  • Safeguarding the nonemployment status of student athletes.
  • Maintaining the distinction between college athletes and professional athletes.
  • Upholding the NCAA’s values, including diversity, inclusion and gender equity.

These recommendations for federal engagement were provided by the Presidential Subcommittee on Congressional Action that was formed as part of the Federal and State Legislation Working Group to provide input on the potential assistance that the NCAA should seek from Congress.

Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of Ohio State went on was also quoted stating…

“The evolving legal and legislative landscape around these issues not only could undermine college sports as a part of higher education but also significantly limit the NCAA’s ability to meet the needs of college athletes moving forward. We must continue to engage with Congress in order to secure the appropriate legal and legislative framework to modernize our rules around name, image, and likeness. We will do so in a way that underscores the Association’s mission to oversee and protect college athletics and college athletes on a national scale.”

What all of these legal words tell us is what most have already been expecting since the information started surfacing last year. Some of the questions that will be have to be looked at closely as this new era begins: How much will this cost the fans? Will ticket prices increase due this new rule? How will they decide what fair market value really is and is it going to be looked at truly equally for every sport or will it be looked at differently for a football player as opposed to a softball player or track athlete? This will continue to have Tiger fans on both sides looking at it hard.

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