Benner: NCAA ruling reflects ‘changing landscape’

(photo courtesy of the NCAA)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The NCAA Board of Governors has unanimously voted to allow student-athletes to be compensated for the use of their likenesses. The organization, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, says the vote calls for each of the NCAA’s three divisions to draw up new rules and policies by no later than January 2021.

The NCAA says the decision gives the students the opportunity to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.” Michael Drake, chair of the NCAA Board of Governors and president of Ohio State University, says the organization must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes.

“Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education,” Drake said in a news release. “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.”

Inside INdiana Business sports contributor Bill Benner says, while he has an “old school” mentality, he understands the landscape has changed in collegiate sports.

“I do understand that the NCAA is getting hit from all sides and from state legislatures across the country and that there needs to be a national response rather than a state-by-state response,” said Benner. “I’m also sympathetic to not just the relative handful of basketball and football players this will affect, but for people like Lilly King, the Indiana University Olympic swimmer who obviously had national and world stature but was not able to capitalize on that and her Olympic success without relinquishing her college eligibility.”

Benner says he hopes the modernization of the rules doesn’t become a slippery slope.

“I just hope that they can continue to somehow legislate through the NCAA a fair and equitable playing field where you feel as if the Butlers of the world had the same opportunities to excel on basketball court as the Dukes. I’m somewhat sympathetic toward the NCAA because trying to administer size and the scope of the schools they have…it’s difficult and still, you want to think that everybody’s on the same playing field. Whether this contributes to that or detracts from that, I think we’ll see how that plays out over the next few years.”

As part of the vote, the NCAA Board of Governors outline the principles and guidelines that the three divisions should base their modernization rules:

  • Assure student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate. 
  • Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success. 
  • Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition. 
  • Make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities. 
  • Make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible. 
  • Reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university. 
  • Enhance principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity. 
  • Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.

Benner says transparency will be key to implementing the new rules when they go into effect.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said the board’s vote “creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”

Benner says, while he has an “old school” mentality, he understands the landscape has changed in collegiate sports.