Written by T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
NCAA president Mark Emmert and the board of governors announced Tuesday that a new federal and state legislation group will be formed to work on a report on providing compensation to college athletes. The group, led by Big East commissioner Val Ackerman and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, will consider how the NCAA rules can be modified or altered to allow college athletes to be compensated for use of their names, images and likenesses.
This would seem to signal the NCAA being willing to pay athletes but it was made clear that the group would not consider anything that could be construed as paying athletes. “While the formation of this group is an important step to confirming what we believe as an association, the group’s work will not result in paying students as employees,” Gene Smith said. “That structure is contrary to the NCAA’s educational mission and will not be part of this discussion.”
That begs the question: If cash payment is not involved in the compensation and won’t be discussed, what will be considered as “compensation”?
“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,” Ackerman said in a statement.
The NCAA said that a final report from the working group is due to the board of governors in October. It is unclear what the timeline for action from NCAA is following the conclusion of the report.
Momentum for change has grown of late and legislation was recently introduced to the House Ways and Means committee by Congressman Mark Walker (Republican from North Carolina) that aims to lift restrictions that keep athletes from profiting from their fame while in school.
“I am thankful the NCAA has created a working group to examine my Student-Athlete Equity Act and how it will empower college athletes with free-market opportunities,” Walker told media. “While this is encouraging, the NCAA has claimed to study this issue for years. Now they need to act to fix the injustices in their model, protect athletes to save the college sports we love.”