This Tuesday, the NCAA made the surprise announcement that it would allow college athletes to be paid for the use of their name and likeness. This new step came in a series of events that started with a bill allowing for this in California. This decision marked an apparent flip in the NCAA’s view of collegiate payment — when California announced a bill that also allowed players to be paid for the use of their name and likeness, the NCAA immediately took a harsh stand against it. It was made obvious that the NCAA would fight the bill in court and college athletics highest governing body even went as far as to threaten California with a ban from NCAA postseason activities. Now, a month later, the NCAA has completely reversed its position.
The NCAA’s decision comes at a time when multiple states have bills similar to the one from California in the works. In fact, Florida currently has a bill that would allow for the start of earned payments to begin before the next college football season, far before that of the January 2021 deadline set by the NCAA. The bill also comes during a time of mounting pressure from not only legislative, but judicial bodies — in recent years, multiple court cases challenging the NCAA’s restrictions have popped up. The NCAA’s announcement let the world know it had heard the criticism.
The organization made no specifics about how the payment system would work, instead only mentioning that it was changing its stance. By the time the system comes to fruition, whether or not it will resemble the imaginings of its supporters is still a mystery. While the statement made sure to note that the fairness of the collegiate system would still be preserved, the NCAA has many big decisions to make as to how a system like this would function. For example, could athletes in the recruitment process be shown the endorsement deals they would receive from attending a specific university? Would there be a limit as to how many sponsors an athlete could have? The real-world implementation by the NCAA will be something unprecedented in the history of collegiate sports. For the first time since its beginnings, a college athlete can earn money from the use of their name in a video game or the use of their face in a car wash commercial. Time will tell what the NCAA’s new model looks like, but this is a promising development for fair compensation for college athletes.