US college sports chiefs back athlete compensation reforms

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The governing body of college sport in the United States has given the green light to proposals which will allow athletes to earn money from their name, image and likeness, the organisation said Wednesday.

In a statement, the powerful National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) said its board of governors had given its backing to landmark reforms that were drawn up in October last year.

The changes mean that student-athletes will be able to receive compensation from third-party endorsements related to their athletic careers.

Athletes can also receive income from avenues such as social media, businesses they have started and personal appearances.

The NCAA board ruled however that while student-athletes would be permitted to identify themselves by sport and school, they will not be allowed to use conference and school logos to promote themselves.

"Throughout our efforts to enhance support for college athletes, the NCAA has relied upon considerable feedback from and the engagement of our members, including numerous student-athletes, from all three divisions," said Michael Drake, chair of the board and president of Ohio State.

"Allowing promotions and third-party endorsements is uncharted territory."

The board ruling will now head to the rules-making structure in each of the NCAA's three divisions for further consideration, the statement said.

The divisions are expected to implement new name, image and likeness rules by January in order to take effect at the start of the 2021-22 academic year.

The NCAA was prompted into relaxing its rules about student-athlete income last year after California governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill allowing college athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsements.

College sports are hugely popular in the United States, with basketball and American football teams garnering national news coverage as well as primetime television viewing.

Games are regularly played before packed out stadiums, while college coaches can often command salaries of several million dollars per year.

Many college gridiron coaches earn salaries higher than their counterparts in the professional NFL.

Yet the athletes whose performances drive the money-spinning world of college sports are strictly forbidden from being paid to play, or from earning money from activities associated with their athletic prowess.