The National Collegiate Athletic Association voted unanimously on Tuesday to allow college athletes to profit from the use of their names and images “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”
The NCAA Board of Governors voted to move toward letting student athletes “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness” during a meeting at Emory University in Atlanta.
The board decided it “must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Chairman Michael V. Drake said in a statement.
The organization has in most cases prohibited the around 450,000 athletes it represents across the country from profiting financially from enterprises associated with their fame, such as merchandise and bearing their names and video games that rely on their likenesses.
The board’s verdict comes after an NCAA task force, led by Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman, was assigned to investigate and provide the board with a report on the feasibility of changing the rules surrounding athletes ability to profit.
The proposal comes after years of sustained criticism directed at the NCAA in response to its refusal to allow athletes to partake in the billions of dollars in annual profits associated with their on-field product.
The change has already received blowback from some professional athletes, including former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who played college football for the University of Florida.
“When I was at the University of Florida, I think my jersey was one of the top jerseys around the world,” Tebow said. “I didn’t make a dollar from it, but nor did I want to. Because I knew, going into college, what it was all about.”
“Yes, I know we live in a selfish culture where it is all about us but we’re just adding and piling on to that where it changes what is special about college football and we’re turning into the NFL,” Tebow argued.
The board requested that the NCAA’s three sports divisions implement new rules that preserve the difference between college and professional sports by January 2021.