This week, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) had a significant shift in policy. Its board of governors voted unanimously to allow student-athletes to begin profiting from their “name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”
The athletic body had faced mounting criticism in recent years for barring any kind of income for amateur athletes, while schools, coaches and the NCAA handsomely profit off of basketball and football. In response, California and other states had reportedly begun pressuring the body to change course, with California adopting its own legislation that allows student-athletes to make money.
Here in Michigan, state Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) appreciates the NCAA’s policy change. But he continues to work on a bill that would go further, he says, and hopefully give the state a competitive advantage in collegiate sports.
“So I’ll say this: It’s a great first step, but it is by far nowhere near as far as we need to go,” Hollier said of the NCAA’s policy shift.
The senator said his bill — which is still being drafted — would encompass a wider array of amateur sports such as Pop Warner football and ensure that the NCAA can’t regulate an athlete’s ability to make money on unrelated activities.
One of the most famous examples was Donald De La Haye, a kicker on the University of Central Florida’s football team who lost his scholarship due to a YouTube channel.
The planned legislation in Michigan would ensure that can’t happen here by “creating kind of a right to privacy,” as Hollier described it during an interview last month with Michigan Radio.
Hollier told the Advance that legislation is needed because there’s little to ensure the NCAA will keep to its new proposed rule, which is unlikely to take effect for at least a year.
“As a national governing body, the NCAA is uniquely positioned to modify its rules to ensure fairness and a level playing field for student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement this week of the proposed rule change. “The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”
One of the most common criticism of allowing student-athletes to be paid or profit from names and images is that it will create an unfair advantage for magnet schools in the major revenue-generating college sports, football and basketball, as all the best players will flock to Ohio State or Duke, for instance.
Hollier isn’t shy that making Michigan university teams more competitive is a goal of his proposed policy.
“I’m a Michigan fan, so if there’s something I can do to make Michigan, or Michigan State or Central or Western more competitive, I’m all about doing that,” Hollier said, noting his job is to work on state policy issues.
“It’s my job to make sure that Michigan is the most appealing place to live, work and play,” he continued. “And so if we can do anything more to protect student-athletes, to make them want to come here, I think we should be doing that.”