NCAA moves forward with historic reforms for athletes on name, image and likeness, as well as transfers
Athletes in major college sports on Wednesday moved another big step closer to being able sell their own signatures, endorse certain products and even join other football and basketball teams without penalty – a series of freedoms that promises to disrupt the old-fashioned notion of amateurism in college sports.
For the first time ever, the NCAA’s Division I council introduced legislation that would unlock the chain of amateurism rules that previously prevented such athletes from profiting off their name, images and likenesses.
The council also introduced a separate measure that would allow college football, basketball and baseball players to transfer to other colleges one time without onerous restrictions, potentially giving them freedom of movement to go with better access to the free market.
The historic moves by the Division I council now put these rule changes on course for a final vote at the NCAA Convention in January, subject to membership feedback in the meantime.
The NCAA moved closer to athlete reforms on name, image and likeness. (Photo: USAT)
“The timing was right to contemplate these things,” the chair of the council, M. Grace Calhoun, told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “We have been moving toward more freedoms and flexibilities and heightened focus on student-athlete rights for many years now. We’re a huge association. Change comes very slowly with big associations, and I think the deliberations around name, image likeness and transfers really highlighted how difficult it is, because they are not easy issues to legislate.”
Calhoun, who is the athletic director at Pennsylvania, added that putting such proposals in front of the NCAA membership “is a big milestone.” Though it has been in the works for months, the push came in response to intense external pressure, including from legislators who had noticed a longtime trend: Skyrocketing revenues in major college sports continued to enrich coaches and athletic departments while the compensation of their players remained restricted to the cost of attending college.
If adopted, the legislation would allow athletes to:
►Receive payment for endorsements, autographs, private lessons, camps and clinics, with certain restrictions such as not using school marks.
►Hire agents under certain conditions.
►Raise money from crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe under certain conditions, including family hardship.
Such activities previously were forbidden under NCAA rules and subject to severe penalties such as loss of a player’s eligibility.
Some issues related to the legislation involving name, image and likeness still will need to be hashed out, if it isn’t superseded altogether by federal legislation, which remains possible. Such legislative pressure served as another reminder that NCAA leadership didn’t exactly make these moves out of a sense of proactive morality. Instead, the governing body reacted after California last year passed a law allowing athletes to profit off their names, images and likenesses.
Other states did the same. Florida’s law is scheduled to go into effect in July, with California’s and Colorado’s laws set to begin in 2023.
Now that it’s headed toward a final vote in the NCAA, one big concern remains about how recruits can be fairly compensated for their own name, image and likeness without being subject to undue inducement from school boosters. This needs to be hashed out and proved to be tricky to legislate, Calhoun said.
“We are mindful of what that could potentially do to recruiting and booster involvement," she said. The goal is to "ensure a level of fairness" without "setting ourselves up for abuse and unlevel playing fields."
Recruiting also will become a newly charged in the market for transfer players after the council approved allowing athletes to transfer to another school one time without having to sit out a year or seek a special waiver to be able to play immediately. This had been allowed in other NCAA sports besides football, basketball, baseball or men’s ice hockey and now could lead to new roster dynamics and increased turnover in these higher-profile sports.
The proposal includes a requirement that the transferring player and the head coach at the player's new team must certify that no tampering took place. If approved, the new transfer rule would be effective for players who seek to be immediately eligible in 2021-22.
“This proposal creates a uniform, equitable approach for all student-athletes, no matter the sport they play,” said a statement from Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference and vice chair of the council.
In separate measures this week, the council approved an extra year of eligibility for athletes in winter sports and removed minimum win requirements for football bowl game eligibility. Both were done in the interest of providing flexibility and relief to athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic. It follows a similar previous eligibility decision for athletes in fall sports.
All measures would alter the landscape of college sports this year and beyond.
In the meantime, other headwinds are spreading the seeds of further reform in the NCAA. The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics released a survey of Division I leaders this week that revealed deep dissatisfaction with runaway expenses in sports: 79% said there is too much disparity in financial resources among schools, while 59% of major college football leaders said they spend too much on football to keep up with the competition.
The survey said 67% supported an antitrust exemption from Congress that would help them cap spending. According to the survey, 44% were willing to support having the 130 major college football schools break away from the NCAA to form their own football entity and rules, compared to 31% who were unlikely to support that.
“I think we all know that university presidents and leaders of institutions see that we need a fix here, that things are out of control in terms of both governance and structural changes,” said Knight Commission member Nancy Zimpher, chancellor emeritus of the State University of New York. “What presidents now know (from the survey) is that they are not alone, that there is significant concurrence amongst respondents, not just presidents… that change needs to be made.”
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: [email protected]
Source: Read Full Article