It is occurring at a glacial pace, but meaningful change might finally be on the horizon in major NCAA athletics, particularly in the big-revenue sports of football and men’s basketball. And a key figure from the University of Colorado will have a voice in the process.
On Tuesday night, it was announced that CU athletic director Rick George will serve on a newly-formed 18-member committee set to explore the ability of student-athletes’ to profit on his or her name, image, and likeness while retaining NCAA eligibility. Named the “NCAA Working Group on State and Federal Legislation,” the committee is comprised of athletics officials from various roles, and includes personnel from all three NCAA divisions.
George is one of four Division I athletic directors on the committee, along with Jill Bodensteiner of St. Joseph’s, Gene Smith from Ohio State, and Virginia’s Carla Williams. The committee will be led by Smith and Big East commissioner Val Ackerman.
“I am honored to serve on this committee,” George said in a statement. “This is an important conversation to be had and I look forward to getting to work on this with other members of the working group.”
In a release, the committee’s mission was described as the following:
- Consider whether modifications to NCAA rules, policies and practices should be made to allow for NIL payments.
- Be mindful that NIL payments must not be compensation for athletics participation. Paying students as employees for play is anathema to the NCAA mission focused on students competing against students and is not part of this discussion.
- Assure that any proposed solutions keep in mind that student-athlete benefits must be tethered to educational expenses or incidental to participation.
- Examine whether any modifications to allow for NIL payments, beyond what the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals required in O’Bannon and other court rulings, would be achievable and enforceable without undermining the distinction between professional sports and collegiate sports.
- Preserve the ability to host fair interstate competitions and national championships.
The NCAA’s stance on the matter has widely panned as archaic, and in the digital age the ability of the tech-savvy modern student-athletes to network and promote him or herself has been handcuffed by NCAA regulations forbidding athletes to profit on their name and likeness, a regulation the NCAA and university officials alike have long cited as necessary in preserving the amateurism model of college athletics. Yet the increasing revenue universities rake in from major college athletics, particularly from lucrative television packages, have steadily blurred those lines.
The CU football program is familiar with the issue. Colorado native Jeremy Bloom electrified Folsom Field in 2002 and 2003, but he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for his final two seasons due to his endorsement deals as an Olympic skier. Bloom Tweeted his support of George’s involvement on the committee, saying:
“As someone who was robbed of my Jr and Sr college football years by the @NCAA due to being a World Champion and Olympic skier, I couldn’t be more thrilled to hear @RickGeorgeCU is part of this committee.”
As someone who was robbed of my Jr and Sr college football years by the @NCAA due to being a World Champion and Olympic skier, I couldn’t be more thrilled to hear @RickGeorgeCU is part of this committee. https://t.co/Kb1e9CmVZB
— Jeremy Bloom (@JeremyBloom11) May 15, 2019