A unanimous decision Tuesday by the NCAA will allow college athletes to profit from the use of their name, image, and likeness, a new step forward in a debate that has raged in the world of college sports for years.
The news was met with praise by a number of observers who say college athletes are exploited by the NCAA, which rakes in more than $1 billion per year but bars student athletes from earning money from advertisements that use their likeness.
The NCAA will now come up with rules allowing students to collect earnings while ensuring that the players, as students, are not paid professional athletes. The rules are to be in place by January 2021.
Professional athletes including NBA player LeBron James and NFL player Richard Sherman have sharply criticized the NCAA's argument in recent years that student athletes are compensated through their full-ride scholarships. The physical workload required of college athletes does not allow them to truly benefit from their scholarships, Sherman told SB Nation in 2015:
When you're a student-athlete...you wake up in the morning, you have weights at this time. Then after weights you go to class and after class, you go maybe try to grab you a quick bite to eat. Then after you get your quick bite to eat, you go straight to meetings and after meetings, you've got practice and after practice, you've got to try to get all the work done...
And those aren't the things that people focus on when talking about student-athletes. They are upset when a student-athlete says they need a little cash.
The NCAA's decision comes a month after California passed a state law barring schools from preventing student athletes from receiving payments for advertisements.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom called the NCAA's current refusal to allow athletes to be compensated a "bankrupt model."
Colleges reap billions from student athletes but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 30, 2019
Following the NCAA's vote, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) quickly let his disapproval of the decision be known, saying he planned to introduce a bill to subject student athletes' scholarships to income taxes if they "cash in" by earning money from the use of their name and likeness.
If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income. I’ll be introducing legislation that subjects scholarships given to athletes who choose to “cash in” to income taxes. https://t.co/H7jXC0dNls
— Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) October 29, 2019
Critics pounced on Burr's comment, wondering why a senator who enthusiastically helped push through a $1.5 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans would concern himself with the ability of college athletes—many of whom are African-American—to earn money.
"Nothing could be more in line with current Republican politics and priorities than giving tax breaks to billionaires and millionaires while finding ways to make college students, many of them young men of color, pay more," tweeted Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro.
Shorter Richard Burr: Taxing white billionaires is bad, but taxing black athletes is good. https://t.co/Hhbv91XX4h
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) October 29, 2019
Approximately 60% of college basketball and football players are black.
I wonder why Richard Burr suddenly became pro-tax increase?
— Christopher J. Hale (@chrisjollyhale) October 29, 2019
Republican Senator proposes tax increase on upwardly mobile (overwhelmingly) minorities.
— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) October 29, 2019