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NAIA passes legislation allowing student athletes to profit from name, image and likeness

Your move, NCAA.

Referee Photo

At long last, a college athletics association will allow its players to profit off their names, images, and likeness. However, those hoping for that type of earth-shaking news in the NCAA have to continue waiting.

The NAIA made the first move in allowing athletes to cash in on themselves by passing legislation on amateurism and compensation. The legislation, which was announced by the association in a press release on Tuesday, allows NAIA athletes to receive compensation from their names, images and likenesses, and permits them to refer to their participation in NAIA athletics in the process.

NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr talked about the legislation in the release.

“This is a landmark day for the NAIA, and we are happy to lead the way in providing additional opportunities for our student-athletes,” said Carr. “The time was right for the NAIA to ensure our student-athletes can use their name, image and likeness in the same ways as all other college students.”

There has been a steady groundswell for change in the NCAA. This started with California passing the Fair Pay To Play Act in 2019, which would allow California student-athletes to be compensated for endorsements without risking eligibility. The law, which takes effect in 2023, put pressure on the NCAA to come up with a solution, and this was intensified with Florida passing a similar law in June.

Notably, a bipartisan Federal law was proposed in Congress last month which would supersede all such state laws.

The NAIA, however, has gotten ahead of the curve and empowered its athletes immediately.

There will likely not be a clamor from companies to begin using NAIA athletes as pitchmen or women, which could theoretically could be the case with NCAA athletes. But the legislation is still significant, and the NAIA laid out more realistic scenarios where student-athletes may be able to make money off their talents, such as a basketball player now being able to advertise personal lessons or training with pictures of them in game action or wearing their team jersey.

And to be sure, NAIA institutions, like their NCAA counterparts, run the gamut from big-city to small-town campuses. There certainly could be endorsement opportunities, like for reigning men’s champion Georgetown (Ky.), in a student-athlete’s respective community.

If nothing else, the NCAA should be paying attention as it gets closer to needing to deal with a landscape screaming for student athlete rights.