Another side of the new NCAA rule

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Me and fellow swim moms at PAC 12 Champs.

Yesterday, news broke that the NCAA is going to change their rules: student-athletes will be able to earn money from their name, image and likeness (NIL). This new ruling followed one month after California passed the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which was the first state to allow student-athletes to earn money from outside sources for their NIL. Other states soon followed, despite the NCAA saying it violated their rules and they might ban California schools from competing in NCAA sanctioned events.

There’s a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of student-athletes being able to make money. Some think it will have unintended consequences of Olympic and minor sports being eliminated. Others say only big name football and basketball stars will make money. Most of the conversation centers on student-athletes getting endorsements from corporations or boosters outright paying students to go to their alma maters. There’s a lot of hoopla going on without anyone knowing exactly how it will change the college athletic experience.

I wasn’t aware of it, but the NCAA rules have affected student-athletes from using their own name or likeness on outside businesses like tutoring, teaching swim lessons or selling t-shirts! A friend of my son’s was an NCAA champion for rowing at Cal. She said while she was in school, she started her own business–but couldn’t use her picture, name or say she had any affiliation to rowing at Cal. Doesn’t that seem ridiculous? You’d think it would be a good thing to talk up your resume and accomplishments. Why should the athletes be treated differently than non-athletic students, who are free to print their name, picture and connection to a school?

Here’s a story in SwimSwam about two swimmers who tried to start up a t-shirt screening business:

Two University of Iowa swimmers found out the hard way just how seriously the NCAA takes its policy regarding college athletes using their own names, photos or athletic links to promote their own business.

Hawkeye seniors Chris Dawson and Tom Rathbun launched their own t-shirt screening business earlier this year entitled Trailheads Apparel, complete with a GoFundMe page that garnered $645 in contributions in just its first 2 days. However, the NCAA compliance alarm was almost immediately sounded as the fundraising page included the student-athletes’ names and bios, including a bit about how Dawson and Rathbun met each other while swimming at Iowa.

The connection to a collegiate sport was thereby established, leading to the Iowa AD contacting the athletes with ineligibility news. The swimmers were conscious about not intentionally violating any NCAA compliance rules, with Dawson saying, “We tried our best not to put anything about swimming in it.”

Nevertheless, changes had to be made at Iowa’s request, including the athletes’ names, photos and any Iowa-related reference being removed from the Trailheads Apparel website. The founders now only identify themselves as ‘Rocky and Slide’.

Here’s an excerpt from a SwimSwam article by Torrey Hart called NCAA Votes to Permit Student-Athletes to Profit from Name, Image, Likeness:

After California passed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow NCAA athletes to profit of their name, image and likeness, the NCAA decided to act.

The NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously Tuesday to allow student-athletes to profit off of their own name, image, and likenesses in “a manner consistent with the collegiate model,” the organization announced.

The Board is directing each of the NCAA‘s three divisions to “immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century.” The divisions have been asked to create rules that take effect no later than January 2021.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Michael Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University, said. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. 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 move comes almost exactly a month after California passed bill SB 206, otherwise known as the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which was set to grant California-based NCAA athletes the opportunity to profit off their name, image and likeness come 2023. After that bill was passed, other states quickly followed with their own versions, challenging the NCAA‘s long-standing stranglehold on keeping its athletes amateur in the financial sense.

The Pac-12 Conference – the major conference in which Division I teams in California participate – and its schools in the state publicly opposed the bill, voicing concerns regarding recruiting and the support of Olympic and women’s sports.

I think changes were needed. We’ll wait and see if it there are unintended consequences or if it’s a win win for everyone.

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My daughter and teammates cheering at the PAC 12s.

What are your thoughts about the new NCAA rules?

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