The National Collegiate Athletic Association voted on Tuesday to begin the process of modifying the regulations that currently bar college athletes from profiting off their likenesses, images, and names.
The NCAA cited the principle that student-athletes should have the same opportunities as all other students to profit off himself or herself. This initiative was spearheaded by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Big East commissioner Val Ackerman, who led a working group that came up with suggestions for the adjustments the NCAA needs.
This news follows the passing of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which would allow all student-athletes within the state to act as free agents and profit off their likenesses. Soon after, New York State Senator Kevin Parker introduced a bill that would mandate that public university student-athletes receive 15 percent of the revenue of their universities’ respective athletics departments.
Despite the passage of California’s legislation and similar laws expected to be voted on in New York, North Carolina, and Florida this year, Smith claimed that a national bill would be a stronger alternative to individual state action.
The NCAA is looking to move away from the “California model” where players become free agents in marketing their likenesses. It aims to create oversight on what deals athletes are allowed to take. However, state politicians still plan on voting on legislation to hold the NCAA accountable in finding a solution.
For a NCAA Division I school like Columbia that only offers need-based scholarships, these adjustments might create challenges in recruiting players, since prospective student-athletes could make more money from endorsements at a traditionally strong athletics program.
In addition, these new regulations might incentivize universities to increase funding for high-profile sports like football, basketball, and baseball, as expanding these programs would further incentivize new recruits.
For these rules to be voted on by the NCAA board during its session in April, all modifications must be submitted by the end of this week. If passed, these new regulations would go into effect by January 2021.
Columbia Athletics did respond to a request for comment when asked about how the modifications might impact Columbia.