Taking Action

Name, Image and Likeness

The College Athlete Model

The NCAA is committed to allow name, image and likeness opportunities for student-athletes consistent with the college athlete model.

The college athlete model is not the professional model, meaning students will compete against other students, not professionals or employees.?

The NCAA is best positioned to provide a uniform and fair name, image and likeness approach for all student-athletes on a national scale.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes. Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education.”

Looking Forward

In the Association’s continuing efforts to support college athletes, the NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.

Specifically, the board said modernization should occur within the following principles and guidelines:

  • Assure student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate.
  • Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success.
  • Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition.
  • Make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities.
  • Make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible.
  • Reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university.
  • Enhance principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity.
  • Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.


Member schools in each division will continue to examine the issue, provide feedback and prepare for future rules changes. The Federal and State Legislation Working Group is expected to provide updated recommendations to the Board of Governors in April.

  • Oct. 29, 2019

    Board of Governors directs divisions to create flexibility in name, image and likeness rules.

  • Jan. 22-25, 2020

    Status update and discussion of general concepts during division-specific delegate sessions at the NCAA Convention.

  • April 2020

    Updates to divisional presidential committees and the Federal and State Legislation Working Group reports to Board of Governors during NCAA governance meetings.

  • Spring/summer 2020

    Continued discussion and feedback in each division.

  • August 2020

    Continued discussion on potential legislation at NCAA governance meetings.

  • Sept. 1, 2020

    Deadline for Divisions II and III Presidents Councils to sponsor legislation.

  • Nov. 1, 2020

    Deadline for submission of legislative proposals in Division I.

  • Jan. 13-16, 2021

    Anticipated vote on legislative solutions by each division at the NCAA Convention.


Questions and Answers

NCAA members continually strive to improve the student-athlete experience, including paying thorough attention to the changing environment of the student body and within higher education. After improving academic support, providing cost of attendance, guaranteeing scholarships and strengthening health and safety, among many changes, the NCAA membership determined that exploring this issue was an important step to support student-athletes within the context of higher education. NCAA leadership also determined that the membership must come together to respond to federal and state legislative proposals that would be harmful to a national, uniform college athletics model.

There are many examples now where each NCAA division has differences in rules, including areas such as recruiting, financial aid, and playing and practice seasons. As a fundamental framework of the Association, member schools choose the division in which they compete and agree to follow the rules within that division. All three divisions will implement change consistent with the principles within the NCAA constitution and articulated by the Board of Governors. The working group provided overarching principles and framework that define Association-wide policy within this space.

It is critical that college sports are regulated at a national level. This ensures the uniformity of rules and a level playing field for student-athletes. The California law and other proposed measures ultimately would lead to pay for play and turn college athletes into employees. This directly contradicts the mission of college sports within higher education — that student-athletes are students first and choose to play a sport they love against other students while earning a degree. The action taken by California likely is unconstitutional, and the actions proposed by other states make clear the harmful impact of disparate sets of state laws.

Read the complete list of Q&As.