N.C.A.A. Misses Target to Approve Rules to Let Players Profit Off Their Fame
Oscillating between deliberation and dysfunction, the NCAA debate over how to enable student-athletes to make money from their fame came to a halt again on Wednesday.
Although the NCAA said in May that its Division I board, one of the most influential bodies in college sport, was to “act” this week to approve new rules on how students can profit from their names , images and resemblances, a one-day session adjourned Wednesday without a vote. Some members had recently signaled that they expected to delay a decision, and the board is due to meet again on Monday, three days before at least six states grant new economic rights to student-athletes – only the NCAA either agree or not.
But the absence of another self-imposed NCAA deadline – it postponed a planned vote in January after the Justice Department in the dying days of the Trump administration expressed concern over the proposals of the association – signals the depth of divisions within a multi-billion dollar industry on the verge of a change that was far from its own idea.
“There have been other critical issues, but nothing has resonated with this kind of situation,” said Dennis E. Thomas, longtime commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. “I think we are all frustrated.”
The three divisions of the NCAA are considering how to give students certain rights to sign sponsorship agreements and earn other outside income, but most of the attention has been focused on Division I, which includes the most important conferences in varsity athletics and more than 170,000 student-athletes.
The Division I board, whose members include people like conference commissioners and athletic directors, is evaluating two proposals to give students the opportunity to earn money through endorsements or monetizing their social media accounts . One, which has emerged in recent days and has the backing of some of the top leagues, would essentially tell universities to follow the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) laws in their states or, if they are found in places without such statutes, to write their own rules.
In a letter released Friday, conference commissioners Atlantic Coast, Metro Atlantic Athletic, Pac-12, Southeastern, Southwestern Athletic and Sun Belt said their joint proposal was “designed to minimize risk to student-athletes and member institutions. , ensure that NCAA legislation complies with all state laws and provides NIL opportunities to student-athletes in states where there is currently no NIL law.
Their proposal, however, came late in a process that took more than two years. Until last week, NCAA executives were focused on a plan that would extend new rights to athletes in a more limited way and give the industry clearer authority.
Under the original approach, students could earn money through endorsements. But their schools could block the agreements in certain situations, as if they conflicted with “existing institutional sponsorship agreements”.
With more state laws set to come into effect in the coming years, and some of them set to go beyond potential NCAA rules, many college sports executives fear that variations in standards state lead to unfair recruitment benefits and ultimately to unfair competition. (In a defeat for the varsity sports industry, Congress failed to strike a deal for a national standard through federal law. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New -Mexico and Texas, at least, have their own statutes that come into effect on July 1.)
Industry concerns escalated on Monday, when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the NCAA in an antitrust case and appeared to lay the legal foundation for future legal challenges to its rules.
In a statement after the court announced its opinion, which did not directly relate to the name, image and likeness agreements, Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, said the association “remains committed to supporting the NIL benefits for student-athletes “and that she was” committed to working with Congress to chart a course forward.
In a note to NCAA members on Wednesday afternoon, first reported by The Athletic, Emmert said the association was working “to develop interim solutions that will equitably allow student-athletes to take advantage of NIL opportunities regardless. or the state in which they are registered. “
“Our intention,” he added, “is to put in place these interim measures by July 1”. But permanent rules by then, he said, “were unlikely due to the legal environment.”
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