NCAA begins process to allow student-athletes to profit from name, image, likeness

NCAA President Mark Emmert speaks during the NCAA Convention, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Indianapolis. Emmert says the governing must act on a set of recommendations to clean up college basketball before the start of next season. He expects to receive the report from an independent commission by April 25. The Board of Governors will then be expected to vote on formal proposals at their August meeting. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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ATLANTA (WIBW) - The NCAA Board of Governors has taken the first step toward allowing athletes to cash in on their fame.

The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to clear the way for the amateur athletes to "benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness."

The vote came during a meeting at Emory University in Atlanta.

In a news release, board chair Michael V. Drake said the board realized that it "must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes."

“Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education," Drake said. "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 NCAA and its member schools now must figure out how to allow athletes to profit while still maintaining rules regarding amateurism.

The board asked each of the NCAA's three divisions to create new rules immediately and have them in place by 2021. It also listed specific guidelines for this modernization:

- Assure student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
- Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
- Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition.
- Make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
- Make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.
- Reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
- Enhance principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
- Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.

“We are aware of the NCAA release issued today proposing student-athletes be permitted to profit from their name, image and likeness through the collegiate athletics model,” KU athletics director Jeff Long said. “The student-athletes’ well-being and collegiate experience is of the highest priority to Kansas Athletics, and we are pleased the NCAA is taking the steps to define the collegiate athletics model and construct a process for student-athletes to benefit. At KU, we will do everything possible to assist in this process as it unfolds over the next several months.”

“This is just the first step that I think everyone was expecting," Emporia State athletics director Kent Weiser said. "It will be very important how this is worded in the rules. We cannot be sure exactly how this could affect Division II until we know what the rules will actually be.”

"This is the first step in what could be a long process," Washburn athletics director Loren Ferre said. "It will be important how this is addressed to see how it will impact college athletics. It will be interesting. "

13 News has also requested a statement from Kansas State athletics director Gene Taylor. At the time of this writing, none have yet responded.

Drake said the association hopes to avoid a court battle against states that are attempting to pass laws aimed at dismantling the NCAA's rules. He hopes that "all who are interested in the future welfare of student-athletes would work with us to get to that point and using reasonable processes to get there."

California passed a law last month that would prevent schools from prohibiting college athletes from being compensated for their names, images and likenesses. That law goes into effect in 2023, but other states are moving on similar legislation that could go into effect as soon as next year.