Hundreds of thousands of college athletes around the country will be free to exercise their new marketing rights starting tomorrow, following an NCAA rule change approved Wednesday afternoon.
Governance bodies in the NCAA’s Division I, Division II and Division III voted to approve an “interim policy” on name, image and likeness (NIL) rights nationwide, removing some of the confusion about the status of athletes in the roughly 40 states that don’t have NIL laws taking effect July 1.
Starting at midnight Thursday, college athletes nationwide will be able to do commercials, endorse products, collect money for autographs, and more, without having violated NCAA rules.
This new policy, recommended earlier in the week, is seen as a temporary solution until the federal government adopts nationwide legislation, or the NCAA codifies more permanent regulations.
“This is an important day for college athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level. The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”
The NCAA was deliberately vague in terms of what is allowed and what isn’t under the new policy. The governing body placed the onus on the school to ensure the conduct of its athletes is consistent with state laws. In states without NIL laws, the NCAA has said deals will not be viewed as a violation. It also says students should report all transactions to their institution.
Two items that were explicitly banned: any pay-for-play arrangements, or inducements tied to an athlete choosing to play at a particular school.
The new policy leaves the door open to schools and conferences to adopt their own policies, something that many have already done.