As more and more people cry out for changes in the NCAA, the four-letter organization is taking the first step to modifying the amateurism model.
Today the NCAA announced the creation of the “NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group.” The name is a mouthful. The group’s ultimate goal is to consider if athletes should be able to profit from their likeness.
“This group will bring together diverse opinions from the membership — from presidents and commissioners to student-athletes — that will examine the NCAA’s position on name, image and likeness benefits and potentially propose rule modifications tethered to education,” said Val Ackerman, commissioner of the Big East and working group co-chair. “We believe the time is right for these discussions and look forward to a thorough assessment of the many complexities involved in this area.”
That statement makes the NCAA sound open for change…until you get to the next sentence of the press release.
According to the board, the group will not consider any concepts that could be construed as payment for participation in college sports.
The move by the NCAA is reactionary. The first loss in court was to Ed O’Bannon. In March a California court ruled in Alston v. NCAA that its scholarship rules were illegal for capping educational benefits. Meanwhile, legislators in Washington and California have created bills that would force state universities to allow players to be compensated for their own image.
The Rice Commission did not directly address the issue. This will be the first time the NCAA directly tackles players profiting from their likeness. The only question is, will this working group meaningfully act on the matter?