College Athletes Will Now Be Able to Earn Money from Endorsements

After years of debate, the NCAA is clearing the way for college sports stars to benefit from their nationwide appeal.

On Tuesday, the NCAA’s Board of Governors — which oversees collegiate athletics at more than 1,000 universities across the country — voted unanimously to allow student athletes to earn money from the use of their names and likenesses in “a manner consistent with the collegiate model,” according to an official report on the decision.

The vote comes one month after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which made California the first state to allow college players to be paid using their own likeness.

“Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar,” Newsom wrote in a tweet in September. “That’s a bankrupt model.”

NBA star LeBron James shared his support after news of the announcement, thanking the Uninterrupted brand he co-founded for bringing attention to the topic.

“Its a beautiful day for all college athletes going forward from this day on! Thank you guys for allowing me to bring more light to it. I’m so proud of the team at @uninterrupted bringing focus on this and to everyone who has been fighting this fight,” James, 34, wrote. “Not a victory but a start!”

There are nearly half a million student athletes under the umbrella of the NCAA, with 19,750 teams across 24 different sports, according to its website.

“As a national governing body, the NCAA is uniquely positioned to modify its rules to ensure fairness and a level playing field for student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”

Urging each division within the NCAA to immediately define restrictions and policies on how to handle the matter, the ruling specifies that the players can’t be paid by the schools to play and that transparent guidelines “reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university,” according to the announcement.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of the Ohio State University, said in a statement. “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.”

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