Oct 30, 2019 - Sports

NCAA provides no details on plans to grant its athletes compensation

Illustration of a football player standing on money and celebrating

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Under mounting pressure from California and other state legislatures, the NCAA's Board of Governors voted Tuesday to consider letting college athletes profit from their name, image and likeness.

The state of play: While this potentially clears the way for athletes to begin accepting endorsement deals — a monumental shift that would dramatically alter the economics of college sports — the official statement offered no details, and any specific rule changes will require further discussion.

  • While the organization's stance has certainly softened, exactly what it'll be giving up is unclear.

Put more bluntly, "the NCAA's latest move is all wind and stall. It's nothing more than an attempt to slow the landslide," writes the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins.

  • "Look closely at the [statement] and note that it contains zero specifics, an almost infinite number of potential restrictions, and doesn't actually say anything about money."

The big picture: One of the main arguments against directly compensating college athletes is how complicated it would be. Do all athletes get paid or just some of them? How is that determined?

  • The name, image and likeness angle removes some of that complexity by essentially letting the market decide. Instead of paying players, it simply affords them the opportunity to make money on their own.
  • That's not to say things won't end up getting just as convoluted, though. After all, the NCAA must eventually develop a coherent set of rules that apply to a Heisman Trophy finalist just as they do to a Dartmouth swimmer.

The bottom line: The return of the "NCAA Football" video game seems like the surest thing at the moment. As for how the rest of this will work, yesterday's news doesn't change anything. Not yet.

Go deeper: California forces the NCAA's hand

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