The NCAA has finally scheduled a potential vote for its name, image and likeness proposals.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that its Division I Council is “expected to act” on NIL proposals during its scheduled June 22-23 meetings. That message did, however, come with this caveat: “provided it is feasible to do so.”
Nonetheless, it is possible that NIL rules could be in place at the NCAA level by July 1. Those rules would allow college athletes to profit from the use of their own images, including potential endorsements and social media marketing.
Five states have set July 1 as the date in which their respective NIL laws would be adopted. Those state laws are not uniform, so the NCAA is hoping a federal law — law that would supersede NCAA bylaws — can be passed before then. If not, the Division I Council could implement one of the NIL proposals put into the NCAA’s laborious legislative cycle back in October.
“Having the legislation in place by July 1 would provide greater consistency in the name, image and likeness opportunities available to student-athletes nationally as state laws become effective on or around July 1,” the NCAA said Wednesday. “The Council expressed general support for amending the effective date of the proposals from Aug. 1, 2021, to July 1, 2021, or immediately if action is taken after July 1."
There is also the looming decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in the NCAA vs. Alston, a case that will determine if the NCAA can cap educational benefits.
NCAA has been inching toward changing NIL rules
For decades, the NCAA used its tax-exempt status and the concept of “amateurism” to defend its rules that prohibit college athletes from being compensated in any way beyond their scholarships and cost-of-attendance. The NCAA's tune began to change, however, when individual states began drafting their own NIL legislation that would college athletes in their states to pursue endorsement deals.
The first and most notable came in 2019 out of the state of California. It was a bill the NCAA once deemed “unconstitutional.” But when the California bill passed in September 2019 and other states followed suit, the NCAA’s Board of Governors said in October 2019 it would “immediately consider updates” regarding name and image rights.
Nearly 20 months later, it hasn’t accomplished much on that front. In April 2020, the NCAA Board of Governors formally expressed support for rule changes that would allow for athlete compensation. Even some details were provided.
Athletes should be allowed to receive compensation for third-party endorsements “both related and separate from athletics,” the Board of Governors said. Additionally, athletes could be paid for other opportunities “such as social media, businesses they have started and personal appearances.”
More than a year after that announcement, nothing has come to fruition. But now that states like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico are ready to put their own NIL laws into effect, NCAA president Mark Emmert told the New York Times that the NCAA is ready to stop dragging its feet — if Congress does not swoop in and save the day before July 1.
Emmert said he would recommend approving new rules “before, or as close to, July 1.”
“We need to get a vote on these rules that are in front of the members now,” Emmert told the Times.
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