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NCAA president says he will take executive action to let all college athletes profit from sponsorships if NCAA council doesn’t act

Summary List PlacementNCAA president Mark Emmert said he would enact rules that grant every college athlete the right to sign sponsorship deals by July, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press on Friday.  Emmert's memo, which was sent to more than 1,100 member schools, urged the NCAA council members to pass permanent legislation to allow athletes the right to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) by July. He said if the council doesn't pass that legislation, then he will enact temporary rules himself.  Full memo from NCAA President Mark Emmert emailed to membership. pic.twitter.com/ckQyiXSgbE —...

Mark Emmert

Summary List Placement

NCAA president Mark Emmert said he would enact rules that grant every college athlete the right to sign sponsorship deals by July, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press on Friday. 

Emmert’s memo, which was sent to more than 1,100 member schools, urged the NCAA council members to pass permanent legislation to allow athletes the right to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) by July. He said if the council doesn’t pass that legislation, then he will enact temporary rules himself. 

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“This is an important moment for college sports and particularly for our athletes,” the memo read. “We must act to ensure that fair opportunities, consistent with our values, are provided to all student athletes.”

All three divisions of the NCAA have been working toward reforming NIL rules and lifting restrictions on athletes since 2019. Nineteen states have already passed their own of state laws that grant their college athletes the right to profit from NIL, and six of those laws go into effect on July 1

“By July, all our athletes should be provided NIL opportunities regardless of the state they happen to live in,” Emmert wrote. “It is therefore essential we now enact rules before the end of the month.”

Emmert went to Congress on July 9 to ask federal lawmakers to pass a nationwide NIL law for college athletes, but senators were torn on the issue. Three federal NIL bills have already been proposed, but none of them have seen any progress in pushing through Congress. 

During the hearing, Emmert said his priorities of the reform are to include guard rails that prevent recruiting disparities between states, and protect the NCAA from anti-trust lawsuits. He also pushed senators to maintain amateurism status for college athletes. 

NIL rights present opportunities and risks for college athletes

If NIL rights are granted to all college athletes, it could also open up a new booming market for third-party endorsement agencies. 

Jason Bergman, founder of the startup service MarketPryce  which is designed to connect athletes and influencers with potential endorsement partners, hopes to connect college athletes from big college programs and small programs alike with endorsement partners. 

“We have a whole network of over 100 national businesses ready to partner with student-athletes,” Bergman told Insider. “My bigger goal is to let an athlete go on to an app on their phone and connect with any business they want.”

However, even supporters of NIL rights for athletes have voiced concerns that entrepreneurs could take advantage of college athletes who aren’t financially literate with deals that are lopsided or overly distracting to athletics and education. 

Former NBA player and ESPN, CBS Sports, and Fox Sports analyst Len Elmore currently co-chairs the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics – a panel dedicated to reform in collegiate athletics with an emphasis on athletes’ rights. He supports NIL rights for athletes, but hopes that reform includes guard rails to protect them as well. 

“You need the guard rails, you need the rules that are going to prohibit the institutions from being involved so that they can’t use it as a recruiting tool,” Elmore told Insider. “The reason for compensation for name, image, and likeness, has to be based upon their popularity, based upon the marketplace that is desirable for having that athlete involved as opposed to artificially propping up the price so that you can recruit that athlete from somebody else.”

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