NCAA eyes Florida, other states, over athlete pay

by | Jan 28, 2020

The NCAA is watching Florida and other states where some lawmakers want college athletes to be able to make money off the field. But leaders of the NCAA’s Federal and State Legislation Working Group on name, image and likeness efforts, reaffirmed last week they won’t support a system that makes students paid employees of schools, something Florida isn’t looking to do.

“While we agree that changes in our rules are in order, we are striving to avoid the myriad of potential consequences that could upend a system that has opened doors for millions of young people to earn degrees and pursue dreams, in many cases debt-free,” Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman and Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith, the working group co-chairs, said in a news release. “We are especially concerned about abuses and potentially harmful influences with respect to recruiting, a practice unique to college sports.”

Ackerman and Smith, noting that more than 500,000 athletes nationwide receive more than $3.5 billion annually in scholarship support, added that a “patchwork approach” by states “may exasperate this concern and would make it impossible to conduct intercollegiate athletics at a national level.”

The release came after the Florida House Commerce Committee submitted a draft bill outlining potential compensation for “name, image, likeness or persona.” The draft maintained that pay for on-field performance would remain prohibited. The proposal would bar Florida colleges and universities receiving state aid from putting restrictions on athletes earning compensation or receiving professional representation. Schools wouldn’t be able to revoke or reduce scholarships of athletes who earn off-field pay.

Schools would be required to provide athletes with health and disability insurance, conduct financial-aid and life-skills workshops for athletes in their freshman and junior years and maintain aid for athletes who have exhausted athletic eligibility. The proposal also would prohibit college athletes from making personal deals that conflict with the terms of their team contracts. The House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee is scheduled to review the proposal (PCB WTS 20-01) on Tuesday. The NCAA Board of Governors in October directed the three collegiate sports divisions to consider updates to bylaws and policies no later than January 2021 to address compensation issues.

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