College athletes can earn money from their name, image and likeness, NCAA rules

The NCAA has approved a temporary policy to allow college athletes in all three divisions to get paid for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL), the organization announced Wednesday. The new policy will go into effect on Thursday, the same day NIL laws are set to go into effect in seven states, and last until federal legislation is adopted or the NCAA develops permanent rules of its own.

The interim policy will allow college athletes and recruits to make money off of activities like autograph signings, endorsements and personal appearances as long as they are consistent with any applicable state law where the athlete’s school is located. Athletes will be able to use professional service providers for such activities, and universities will be responsible for determining whether those activities are consistent with state law.

The new policy also allows athletes who attend schools in states without NIL laws on the books to make money off their name, image and likeness without violating NCAA rules.

“With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in Wednesday’s announcement. “The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”  

To date, 20 states have passed NIL legislation, with seven set to go into effect on Thursday. On Monday, with the NIL laws looming, the NCAA Division I Council voted to recommend that the Division I board of directors adopt the new interim policy.   

“The new interim policy provides college athletes and their families some sense of clarity around name, image and likeness, but we are committed to doing more,” Division III Presidents Council chair Fayneese Miller said in a statement. “We need to continue working with Congress for a more permanent solution.”

The change in policy comes a little over a week after the Supreme Court unanimously voted against the NCAA, saying that the association cannot limit education-related benefits for student-athletes. Although the ruling didn’t directly address NIL rules or the ability for players to be paid directly by schools, Justice Brett Kavanaugh raised concerns regarding antitrust laws. 

“The NCAA couches its arguments for not paying student athletes in innocuous labels. But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America,” he wrote in his opinion. 

The organization said in a statement that the ruling “reaffirms the NCAA’s authority to adopt reasonable rules and repeatedly notes that the NCAA remains free to articulate what are and are not truly educational benefits, consistent with the NCAA’s mission to support student-athletes. 

Even before the new NIL policy was announced, several college athletes were preparing to take advantage of the new laws. University of Wisconsin football player Graham Mertz on Monday debuted a trademarked personal logo on his social media accounts. The University of Iowa basketball player Jordan Bohannon has announced a branded apparel line to be released Thursday.

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