NCAA to consider allowing athletes to profit off their name, likeness

Following a federal proposal regarding athletes making a profit off of their image and likeness, the NCAA announced they have formed a working group to examine the issue.

"This group will bring together diverse opinions from the membership - from presidents and commissioners to student-athletes - that will examine the NCAA's position on name, image and likeness benefits and potentially propose rule modifications tethered to education," said Val Ackerman, commissioner of the Big East and working group co-chair said in a press release from the NCAA. "We believe the time is right for these discussions and look forward to a thorough assessment of the many complexities involved in this area."

The Student-Athlete Equity Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina would "amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit qualified amateur sports organizations from prohibiting or substantially restricting the use of an athletes name, image, or likeness, and for other purposes."

"I think that would be fantastic," said Desmond Scott, a former Duke Blue Devil star football player who now runs his own business in Durham.

Prior to graduating in 2013, Scott became the first Blue Devil to have at least 1,000 yards rushing, receiving, and on kick returns.

Yet during his career, he could not profit off his likeness.

"You can make finances back, and when it's with your body - you can't get more than one body," Scott said.

He started Prime Athlete Training and Fitness Institute in 2013, and has already twice moved to larger facilities as his business has grown. It now includes an in-house daycare, salon, and protein supplements, on top of fitness classes and training sessions.

"A lot of entrepreneurs don't understand that they are a brand, they are their business and what they do and the work that they put out actually represents themselves," said Scott, who did receive settlement money from a lawsuit stemming from his image being used in video games.

In a statement, Rep. Walker wrote: "I am thankful the NCAA has created a working group to examine my Student-Athlete Equity Act and how it will empower college athletes with free-market opportunities,"Walker said. "While this is encouraging, the NCAA has claimed to study this issue for years. Now they need to act to fix the injustices in their model, protect athletes and save the college sports we love."

Former Duke star and current ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas shared his thoughts on Twitter, writing: "While this seems encouraging, it's just NCAA lip service. Whenever you hear 'tethered to education,' it means athlete rights will be denied. Funny, NCAA revenues (the selling of "amateur" players) don't need to be 'tethered to education.'"

The NCAA said a final report is due to the Board of Governors in October, with an update provided in August.
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