Jun 11, 2021; Eugene, Oregon, USA; An NCAA logo flag at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Council approves NIL profits for athletes, with final vote Wednesday

In a move that comes close to paving the way for college athletes to be paid from their name, image and likeness (NIL), the NCAA voted Monday to approve an interim policy allowing such profits as soon as July 1 without affecting eligibility.

The NCAA has been under pressure to reform after the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking ruling last week that universities had unfairly hurt college athletes by prohibiting schools from competing for recruits via stringent limits on compensation.

Monday’s vote, held by the Division I Council (largely consisting of athletics administrators), does not implement such change just yet. Instead the Division I Board of Directors, comprised of higher-level figures such as school presidents, will vote Wednesday on the recommendation that athletes could begin to earn NIL profits as early as Thursday.

If the interim policy receives final approval, athletes could begin earning money based on NIL later this week in all states that have not yet passed related laws. In states with laws already on the books, athletes could still make money so long as they follow those laws.

According to USA Today, 10 states will have laws allowing athletes to profit from NIL as of Thursday, and with legislation pending elsewhere, the count could be up to 15 by Sept. 1.

Ten days ago, NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a memo to over 1,100 institutions in an effort to convince them to pass legislation that will make it legal for players to earn money from their likenesses. In addition to aiming to avoid federal regulation, the NCAA is trying to maintain level playing fields until any future compensation guidelines are consistent through schools in every state.

–Field Level Media

Jun 11, 2021; Eugene, Oregon, USA; An NCAA logo flag at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Emmert to schools: Resolve the NIL mess or the NCAA will

In a memo sent to more than 1,100 schools Friday, NCAA president Mark Emmert said he will act on impending name, image and likeness (NIL) changes in July but urged schools to pass legislation that will make it legal for players to earn money from their likenesses.

The urgency stems from multiple state NIL laws about to go into effect July 1, which allow for college athletes to make money off their images. The fear is that those laws will create an uneven playing field or an advantage for schools in those states.

Overall, 19 states have passed laws to this effect, with seven states set to enact those laws July 1: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas.

That leaves NCAA member schools scrambling to figure out a best path forward. The NCAA wants quick action.

As Emmert wrote in the memo, “By July, all our athletes should be provided NIL opportunities regardless of the state they happen to live in.”

Athletes have continued to push for free access to revenue streams, which the NCAA has resisted. The new states laws do not provide that, instead also favoring some limitations.

The federal government likewise supports athletes earning money with limitations, but the two major parties can’t come to a consensus on scope, and aren’t expected to do so in the next month.

–Field Level Media