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Under Pressure From New CA Law, NCAA Eases Policy On Student Athlete Compensation

The NCAA logo is shown on the field before a game.
The NCAA logo is shown on the field before a game.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

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The NCAA took a major step Tuesday toward allowing college athletes to cash in on their fame, voting to permit them to "benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness."

The nation's largest governing body for college sports and its member schools now must figure out how to allow athletes to profit - something they have fought against doing for years - while still maintaining rules regarding amateurism. The NCAA Board of Governors, meeting at Emory University in Atlanta, directed each of the NCAA's three divisions to create the necessary new rules immediately and have them in place no later than January 2021.

The NCAA's move came a month after California passed a law that would make it illegal for NCAA schools to prohibit college athletes from making money on endorsements, autograph signings and social media advertising, among other activities. The California law goes into effect in 2023. More than a dozen states have followed with similar legislation, some of which could be on the books as soon as next year.

It's hard to say exactly how much athletes could fetch on an open market for their names. It could range from a few hundred dollars for creating personalized video and audio greetings for fans through companies such as Cameo, to thousands of dollars for doing television advertisements for local businesses. NCAA rules allow for an athletic scholarship that covers tuition, room and board, books and a cost-of-attendance stipend. The cost of attendance is determined by the institution using federal guidelines and generally ranges from $2,000-$5,000 per semester.

AirTalk contacted the NCAA to request a representative be made available for comment, but they declined our request. We also reached out to Senator Nancy Skinner, who introduced the California legislation allowing student athletes to profit from their name and likeness, but she was not available.


Louise Radnofsky, sports reporter for the Wall Street Journal who has been covering the story; she tweets @louiseradnofsky

Craig Pintens, athletic director at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; he previously spent seven years as the senior associate athletic director at the University of Oregon; he tweets @lmupintens

Andrew Zimbalist, professor of economics at Smith College and author of the book “Unwinding Madness: What Went Wrong with College Sports—and How to Fix It” (Brookings Institution Press, 2017)

Gregg E. Clifton, lawyer and principal at the Phoenix office at Jackson Lewis where he is the co-chair of the firm's national sports practice; he serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog