NCAA Resists Key Name, Image, Likeness Issues & Fails Athletes During COVID-19 Struggles

NCPA responds to NCAA announcement on college athlete name, image, and likeness reform.

April 29, 2020

The National College Players Association (NCPA) denounced the NCAA’s refusal to move toward immediate economic freedoms college athletes desperately need.   A pre-coronavirus survey conducted in 2019 found that 14% of Division I college athletes reported experiencing homeless while about ¼ reported lacking enough food to eat.  As COVID-19 continues to inflict widespread economic harm on our country, college athletes are becoming increasingly desperate.  Those who rely on support from home and part-time jobs are especially vulnerable as unemployment skyrockets.

Sweeping, bipartisan state legislative action and pressure from Congress has forced the NCAA to recommend giving up resistance in some areas.  It is recommending to allow athletes the freedom to secure agents, and be allowed to use their NIL to earn compensation from NIL deals with boosters.

NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma stated, “The NCAA is being dragged into taking initial steps, and it is progress.  However, NCAA parameters announced today would violate several provisions of California’s SB 206 and other freedoms being pursued by dozens of state legislatures.  The NCAA knows this.”

SB 206 would not allow the NCAA or its colleges the freedom to cap NIL compensation, interfere with NIL deals outside of mandatory team activities, or regulate or limit athlete representation.

Additionally, the NCAA is seeking to prohibit group licensing representation which is also a rebuke to state’s that are opening up these opportunities for their college athletes.  This means the NCAA seeks to ban players from receiving earnings from group licensing markets including video games and jersey sales.  Additionally, the NCAA is attempting to deny college athletes the ability to secure group licensing media revenue from live broadcasts and rebroadcasts, which will be allowable under SB 206.

Huma stated, “This is a rebuke to state lawmakers and legislatures working had to bring economic liberty to college athletes.  This was a make or break moment for the NCAA, and it has failed.  We encourage state lawmakers to continue fighting for justice on behalf of their college athletes.”

While the NCAA squanders precious time to float proposals that would deny college athletes freedoms afforded to other college students and Americans, it continues to maintain severe economic restrictions on college athletes who may never get to play.   Due to COVID-19, athletic administrators and presidents are considering cancelling fall sports and some schools will not be honoring scholarships to spring sport athletes seeking to return next year.  Despite paying lavish salaries to coaches and administrators, some colleges have begun eliminating teams and lobbying the NCAA for the ability to reduce the number of teams below the current Division I minimum level.  This means tens of thousands of college athletes may soon lose their scholarships and athletic opportunities.  Being a college athlete is not a qualifying factor for unemployment or the COVID-19 stimulus packages.

The NCAA report lists fall of 2021 as the implementation date of its recommended changes.

“Apparently the NCAA is choosing to slow-walk this issue while more and more college athletes face economic uncertainty and struggle to cover basic necessities.  The NCAA is trying to sentence college athletes to an additional 15-16 months of economic restrictions.  This is a colossal failure for NCAA sports and college athletes are paying the price.  The NCAA must expedite meaningful reform, not delay it.  If a concerned fan were to give a college athlete food, shelter, money for required coursework books, a ride to the hospital, or funds to help pay for medical expenses, the NCAA would punish that athlete.  It is clear the NCAA is unwilling to do its part in helping America mitigate the fallout from COVID-19. The NCAA, conferences, and colleges would rather continue pretending to study a topic that has been studied for over a decade,” Huma stated.

Earlier this month, the NCPA called on the NCAA to adopt emergency legislation aimed at granting college athletes the freedom needed to pay for medical, living, and academic expenses as well as earning compensation from use of their name, image, and likeness:

1. Allow 3rd parties to pay for college athletes’ health insurance and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

2. Allow 3rd parties and colleges to pay for any or all of a college athlete’s food, rent, utilities, incidental expenses, tuition, books, and fees.  Team scholarship limits should be waived if otherwise applicable while roster limits would still apply.

3. Allow college athletes to secure representation and receive 3rd party compensation for use of their name, image, and likeness.  Compensation that is arranged by a college or used by a 3rd party as an inducement to attract recruits or transfers would not be permitted.

4. Grant college athletes the freedom to transfer immediately without punishment if they are not given a written guarantee within 30 days that they will receive an athletic scholarship that covers the full cost of tuition and fees.  Team scholarship limits should be waived if otherwise applicable while roster limits would still apply.

5. Grant all returning spring sport college athletes the freedom to transfer immediately without punishment if they are not given a written guarantee within 30 days ensuring that they will receive no less than their current athletic scholarship amount for the 2020-21 school year.