“The devil is in the details”: New NCAA ruling could change how student-athletes profit off likeness

The Board of Governors' decision paves the way for student-athletes to earn money off their names, images, and likenesses

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —College athletes are one step closer to making money off their names, images, and likenesses.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Board of Governors unanimously agreed to look into ways that student-athletes can be on the same economic playing field as other students.

Some experts say that this decision still has many details that need to be ironed out, but they say for the NCAA, one USC professor says the organization did the right thing by recognizing a changing culture in college athletics.

“The money has grown so enormous and the commercialization of big-time college athletics has expanded so much. I think what’s happening now is more and more fans have wondered why is it that athletes who are in the stadium and whose jerseys are being sold and there’s 80,000 people in the stadium and millions of people watching and billions of dollars in TV contracts are complaining,” said Mark Nagel, a Sport and Entertainment Management Professor at the University of South Carolina.

Even though the NCAA has maintained its model of amateurism for their student-athletes, President Mark Emmert said recent legislative action, including a recent law signed in California, caused them to revisit its policies. 

“The states are going to do what they’re going to do. We happen to believe, and common sense suggests that trying to have 50 different sets of rules to run a national system doesn’t make a lot of sense, so trying to do that on a national scale is the only way to have successful sports,” Emmert said.

Senator Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston County), who plans to propose a bill similar to the California version, says he’s going to monitor how the NCAA carries out this new plan.

“The devil is in the details. If those rules are not announced before January, it’s my full intent to keep pressing forward,” Sen. Kimpson said.

Even though athletes now have a chance to have a slice of the pie, Nagel says this won’t have a catastrophic effect on college sports in the long run.

I think at the end of this, we’re going to see some change, but I still think people are going to want to go to games, people are still going to watch them on TV, and I still think college players will enjoy the college experience; it’s just many of them will be able to access some money that they couldn’t otherwise before,” Nagel said.

Nagel says the ball now rests with the three NCAA divisions to determine how and when their schools can put these new rules into practice. 

The Board of Governors said the changes could be implemented in the three divisions immediately as long as the rules assure student-athletes are treated the same as non-student athletes, emphasize the importance of collegiate education, stress a difference between collegiate and professional opportunities, and reaffirm that student-athletes are not employees of the university.

Dan Radakovich and Ray Tanner, the Athletic Directors for Clemson and the University of South Carolina respectively, released statements on the ruling Tuesday.

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