WASHINGTON -- The NCAA announced Tuesday that it will consider ways college athletes can profit from their name and likeness, a reversal from their staunch opposition to legislative efforts to create a "pay-for-play" system.
The organization's Board of Governors voted unanimously in favor of allowing the change, NCAA said. The decision did not immediately set a system in place for paying college players, but set out a series of principles that will guide the development of a pay-for-play system.
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said Michael V. Drake, the board's chair.
“Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”
The openness to allowing players to profit from their play in college is a reversal to the NCAA's fight with California Gov. Gavin Newsom over a new law that would allow the state's players to profit from their likeness.
That bill was signed into law by Newsom in a video featuring basketball superstar LeBron James and other accomplished athletes supporting the move.
Before he signed the law, the NCAA sent the governor a letter stating the change "would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions."
Now the association will form a working group to gather feedback and lay out a framework for a new system, with a goal of implementing any rule changes "no later than January 2021."
“The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said.