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NCAA Tiptoes Toward Letting Athletes Get Paid for Endorsements

Oct. 29, 2019, 7:24 PM

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, under growing pressure from California and other states, took a step toward letting student-athletes “benefit” from use of their name, image and likeness.

The organization’s board voted unanimously to have its three divisions consider bylaw and policy changes that let students market themselves. Still, the process will take time: The board set a deadline of January 2021 for changing the rules.

And the NCAA stopped short of saying athletes would actually get paid. That irked the National College Players Association, an advocacy group that has been pushing for compensation.

“The board of governors voted to allow players to ‘benefit’ from use of their name, image, and likeness,” Ramogi Huma, executive director of the players association, said in a statement. “This is not a green light to receive ‘compensation.’ The NCAA has been signaling for months that such benefits would not be actual compensation.”

The NCAA announcement comes about a month after California’s governor signed a bill that makes it easier for athletes at schools there to profit from their image. The organization initially opposed the legislation, saying California schools may be barred from competing.

Lawmakers in other states -- including Florida, where a bipartisan effort would’ve taken effect next year -- have followed California’s lead.

Despite that pressure, the NCAA is still only taking initial steps, Huma said.

“Instead of fulfilling its commitment to put forward a proposal in late October, it’s now asking each division to ‘consider’ making a proposal,” he said.

NFL Union

On Monday, the players association said it was working with the union that represents NFL players to explore how college athletes could profit from their name, image and likeness.

The NCAA said Tuesday that changes should “make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.” And getting paid to play isn’t on the table. “Compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible,” the association said.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Michael Drake, chairman of the NCAA board and president of Ohio State University, said in a statement. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education.”

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To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Soshnick in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at