The National Collegiate Athletic Association Board of Governors voted to allow its athletes to earn money from their name, image and likeness. Collegiate athletes can now make money by signing autographs and having endorsement deals, which is a change that is long overdue.
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said Michael Drake, chairman of the board and president of The Ohio State University in an Oct. 29 press release. “This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”
The board voted unanimously to have all divisions of NCAA sports consider updates to relevant bylaws. The changes will also “assure student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students,” according to the release.
But make no mistake, the NCAA is not doing this for the greater good, it is doing it because legislation in California forced its hand. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Play to Pay Act Sept. 30. The act would allow athletes to profit from their likeness, name and image.
According to a statement from Newsom, colleges and universities make millions from athletic events, and participation in sports comes “at great risk to students’ health, academic success and professional prospects.”
The NCAA has long profited off the backs of its estimated 460,000 student athletes and had no desire to give the players a portion of the profits. Let’s not applaud the NCAA for its action, because even though change is coming, it’s coming too late.
While the NCAA dragged its feet to approve these changes, many NCAA athletes were deprived of opportunities to make money. Some of these students have gone on to graduate, preventing them from ever having these opportunities again.
“Along with this came a lot of attention and opportunities, but I couldn’t capitalize on them,” said former NCAA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi in an Oct. 9 New York Times video.
Ohashi went viral after videos of her floor routine circulated the internet and news outlets. Ohashi was heralded as the next great gymnast as she tallied perfect scores in her performances.
But due to then-applicable NCAA rules, she could not make any money. Unlike other collegiate athletes, she had no professional sports league to play in after she graduated. Ohashi, along with thousands of other collegiate athletes, missed out on an opportunity that may never resurface.
Ohashi’s story is not unique. The NCAA has been aggressive in preventing athletes’ capitalist ventures. The organization has a history of cracking down on players’ private endeavors. Donald De La Haye made money from his YouTube Channel while playing at the University of Central Florida. He violated NCAA rules by appearing in his videos.
A July 2017 statement from the NCAA stated De La Haye could make money off his channel, but he would have to “separate his athletically-related videos from non-athletic videos.”
De La Haye did not want to separate the videos which led to UCF ruling him ineligible to play. It’s despicable—a $1.1 billion organization cracking down on college athletes just trying to make some money. Unfortunately, current changes to legislation do not undo the many injustices done in the past.
Collegiate athletes help build the legacy of certain campuses. The NCAA is not oblivious to this. Thankfully, changes were made that are seemingly common sense, and athletes will now have a better chance to make the money they rightfully deserve.