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NCAA moves on Name, Image, Likeness; athletes may bank autograph fees

College athletes are another step closer to cashing in on their marketability – with a potential pending NCAA stamp of approval.

The NCAA's Division I council proposed sweeping changes to student-athletes' rights regarding their ability to cash in on everything from autographs to private lessons to commercial opportunities and myriad other options. The measure is scheduled to be put to vote in January 2021 when the council has scheduled its next meeting.

“This is an important milestone,” said M. Grace Calhoun, University of Pennsylvania's athletics director and the NCAA's head of the D1 Council, “in the progress toward modernizing Division I rules to better support student-athletes in all of their endeavors.

“We know additional refinements may be needed as we make sure modifications are fair, recognize the importance of the current recruiting structure and that every student-athlete has the same opportunity to benefit.”

Perhaps equally significant, the move also would allow NCAA student-athletes to retain professional representation to negotiate marketing and other contracts, though the new provision prohibits players from utilizing their schools' logos and/or formal names in endorsement deals.

The NCAA also notes student-athletes can obtain representation for these matters “with some restrictions.”

If adopted, the legislation would provide guidelines for student-athletes to potentially profit from each of the following NCAA-legalized options:

“Allow student-athletes to use their name, image and likeness to promote camps and clinics, private lessons, their own products and services, and commercial products or services.”

Additionally, among other rights, student-athletes now, under the proposal, can spearhead fundraisers and crowd-sourcing charitable endeavors without fear of NCAA interference. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, among other student-athletes, encountered confusion, if not obstacles, in his efforts earlier this year to engineer a GoFundMe drive to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts.

The NCAA's Division I council members to shape the proposed changes, part of its Legislative Solutions Group, also includes Ohio State A.D. Gene Smith, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Big East commissioner Val Ackerman, and, of course, Calhoun.

Additionally, schools will be prohibited from arranging or brokering deals for their student-athletes, who will be required to disclose all endorsement deals, marketing arrangements and compensation.

The NCAA would like a single, third-party entity to manage and oversee the potential name, image and likeness changes.

“The group continues to support use of a third-party administrator to assist with overseeing the disclosure process; monitoring and reporting name, image and likeness activities; and educating key stakeholders, including student-athletes, prospective student-athletes, boosters and professional service providers,” the NCAA said in its release.