Since September a very real movement to address the issue of allowing college athletes to be paid for use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL) has begun. Last fall marks the beginning because that was when California passed its landmark “Fair Pay to Play Act” to address the issue, stating California’s institutions of higher learning, including both state and private colleges, cannot prevent college athletes from “earning compensation as a result of the use of [their] name, image or likeness.”
In light of the law, the NCAA issued a statement saying that “changes are needed to continue to support” the athletes that play for colleges and universities. However, the member-led organization, which is dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes, says that such change cannot fall under the authority of state regulation, which will result in a patchwork of state-specific law. While the NCAA has begun to shift its rules, it also wants to create guidelines to keep college sports from evolving into a pay-for-play model.
That California legislation, which will go into effect in 2023, was passed prior to inking of similar laws in Colorado and Florida. The NCAA reports that 36 other states have proposed legislation addressing the topic, with some requiring ticket-revenue-sharing agreements with athletes or stipends.
Florida’s new law will leapfrog California to go into effect in summer 2021, so Congress, with the encouragement of the NCAA and some major college conferences, is moving to head off the state-by-state balkanization of regulations with a Federal law that will also preclude lawsuits challenging amateurism rules.
The NCAA has long maintained its amateurism system and defended legal challenges over the years. Lawsuits that have proclaimed that the system limits potential athlete compensation. Thus far, courts have found the NCAA system is not in violation of federal antitrust law, so long as colleges are not prohibited from paying for the costs of attendance and other expenses tied to education.
Delve deeper into the legislation effort and its implications with this Law360.com article.