In an announcement on Tuesday (October 29), the organization’s top governing board voted unanimously to allow college athletes to be compensated from their name, image, and likeness. However, the three divisions of colleges and universities that make up the NCAA will have to craft their own rules and detail the specifics.
The groundbreaking decision comes as a surprise and major shift for the collegiate organization, which had historically and continually attempted to prohibit college athletes from being paid. As recently as last month, the NCAA sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom opposing the state’s “Fair Pay to Play Act” and argued that it would “upend [a] level playing field for all student-athletes.”
California became the first state to pass a law that would allow college athletes to get paid for endorsement deals and hire sports agents. The law, which takes effect in 2023, is still likely to be considered “unconstitutional” by the NCAA as it considers all potential next steps as states themselves continue to address the subject of student-athlete pay.
The other priorities laid out by the NCAA going forward include enhanced principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equality, as well as protecting the recruiting environment.
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Board of Governors Chairman and President of the Ohio State University 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.”
Tuesday’s decision comes after the NFL Players Association and NCAA announced Monday they would explore ways to ensure that college athletes get a share of revenue stemming from the sale of their name, image and likeness.