The foundation is in place for the NCAA to drastically alter its definition of amateurism.

By this time next year, college athletes may have the official OK to become paid sponsors, able to earn money for their names, images and likenesses without compromising their eligibility.



EAST LANSING, MI – SEPTEMBER 23: Brian Lewerke #14 of the Michigan State Spartans runs for a long gain during the first quarter as Jalen Elliott #21 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish gives chase during the game at Spartan Stadium on September 23, 2017 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)


Remember when Ohio State players got into trouble with the NCAA in 2010 for trading their own memorabilia and gear for tattoos? Or when Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel signed autographs for money in 2013 and everyone wondered what the punishment might be?

Under the new rules being drawn up across the NCAA, all that would most likely be fine. A report from the NCAA’s Federal and State Legislation Working Group laid out how we got here, what has been agreed upon and what is still to be determined.

There is still a lot to figure out, including how, exactly, to draw up “guardrails sufficient to ensure that … the role of third parties in student-athlete NIL activities is regulated.”

Some questions and answers as the NCAA moves to address athlete compensation, a thorny issue for the nation’s biggest college sports governing body for more than 60 years.



CORVALLIS, OREGON – NOVEMBER 08: Hunter Bryant #1 of the Washington Huskies runs with the ball against the Oregon State Beavers in the second quarter during their game at Reser Stadium on November 08, 2019 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)


Q: Who will be permitted to pay the athletes?

A: The best way to answer that is by laying out who will not be permitted to pay the athletes: The NCAA, the schools and the conferences.

That doesn’t mean everybody else is good to go: The NCAA working group said member schools should consider prohibiting athletes from promoting things like alcohol, tobacco and sports gambling. There is also a recommendation to limit what athletes can do with shoe and apparel companies — a source of angst for college sports of a long time.

Q: What about boosters?

A: Boosters likely won’t be immediately disqualified from working with athletes. The NCAA plans to monitor deals athletes make and require them to disclose details, perhaps through a clearinghouse.

Q: Will this be enough to satisfy lawmakers, both state and federal?

A: No. The NCAA is trying to fend off attempts by states to force the association into opening up the free market for athletes. The NCAA is also hoping to get help from Congress in the form of a federal law to that will override anything states come up with and provide uniformity.



COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 26: Thayer Munford #75, Josh Myers #71, Gavin Cupp #61 and Jonah Jackson #73 of the Ohio State Buckeyes warm up prior to game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)


Reactions to the NCAA’s announcement from lawmakers ranged from cautiously optimistic (California state Sen. Nancy Skinner, the primary driver of the state’s law on the topic, said it was a step in right direction) to downright dismissive (Florida state Rep. Chip LaMarca said: “If the NCAA’s goal was to limit access, then they have accomplished their goal.”).Q: When will Congress get around to dealing with the NCAA?A: Hard to know.

Sens. Chris Murphy and Mitt Romney are leading a group of lawmakers examining compensation for college athletes and related issues. There was momentum for senators to take action. Then a global pandemic hit. This is still a big issue for Murphy and others, but whether it can move forward during a public health and economic crisis remains to be seen.

Q: Is the NCAA angling for an antitrust exemption?

A: Not directly, but when you ask Congress to protect your organization from state laws and future lawsuits challenging your rules it sounds a lot like you are asking for antitrust exemption.

Q: Will athletes be capped on what they can earn?

A: No, according to Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who led the group that produced the recommendations approved by the NCAA Board of Governors.



COLUMBUS, OH – DECEMBER 04: Ohio State University athletics director Gene Smith listens during a press conference at Ohio State University on December 4, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. At the press conference head coach Urban Meyer announced his retirement and offensive coordinator Ryan Day was announced as the next head coach. Meyer will continue to coach until after the Ohio State Buckeyes play in the Rose Bowl. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)



That is notable since the NCAA is still fighting the appeal of an antitrust case in which the plaintiffs claimed the association and its member schools and conferences have illegally capped compensation to athletes at the value of a scholarship.

Q: Can we expect to see athletes in their jerseys touting the local sandwich shop?

A: Athletes will not be allowed to use their school logo or brand in their personal deals.

Q: Is the NCAA football video game coming back?



ANN ARBOR, MI – OCTOBER 13: Michigan Wolverines Athletic Director Warde Manuel hugs Dylan McCaffrey #10 after a 38-13 win over the Wisconsin Badgers on October 13, 2018 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


A: Not under these recommendations. That would require a group licensing deal between the players and the schools and the NCAA is steering clear of that.


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