College athletes could get paid starting in 2021, NCAA says

Student-athletes could now profit from personal business and social media.

Although many sports are on hold in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA is making strides to help solidify new rules around paying student-athletes.

The NCAA Board of Governors announced Wednesday that it supported rule changes that would allow student-athlete compensation for third-party endorsements and promotions related to and separate from athletics.

The NCAA's highest governing body said it supports "compensation for other student-athlete opportunities, such as social media, businesses they have started and personal appearances within the guiding principles originally outlined by the board in October."

Under the new rules, athletes would be allowed to identify themselves by their sport and school, but will not be able to profit from the use of the conference and school logos or trademarks. Nor can they be paid directly by a university or college.

The new recommendations, which were outlined within the guiding principles outlined in October, are now headed to the rules-making structure within the three NCAA divisions and are expected to go into effect as of the 2021-22 academic year.

The board has directed all three divisions to consider appropriate rules changes based on recommendations from its Federal and State Legislation Working Group.

"The board's decision today provides further guidance to each division as they create and adopt appropriate rules changes," Ohio State senior vice president and athletics director, and working group co-chair, Gene Smith said in a statement.

Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of Ohio State, called allowing promotions and third-party endorsements "uncharted territory" and explained that the NCAA relied upon feedback from "numerous student-athletes from all three divisions."

The rules needed to make these new modifications to its policy on name, image and likeness could differ by division and will need to be appropriately regulated going forward.

"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," Val Ackerman, commissioner of the Big East and working group co-chair, said. "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."

The board also discussed potential outside legal and legislative factors that could arise due to the new rules and will take action in Congress to ensure proper protections for the NCAA.

"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," Drake said. "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."

Drake added that the board will work with lawmakers to highlight the NCAA's mission to "oversee and protect college athletics and college athletes on a national scale."

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