On Tuesday afternoon, the NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to clear the way for athletes to “benefit from their name, image and likeness," with the announcement coming just hours after it was revealed that a key task force was looking into the matter.
Last month, California passed a law, effective in 2023, that will prevent schools from prohibiting college athletes from being compensated for their names, images and likenesses. Other states are considering similar legislation that could be effective as early as next year.
The chairman of the board told the Associated Press that the NCAA hopes to avoid a court battle with those states.
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams could be one big name in favor of the change. When asked about the California bill four weeks ago, he said "I've never been one to say yes to paying players," but then told a story about one of Peyton Manning's games at Tennessee, when the university made hundreds of thousands in revenue from the sales of his jersey.
"Peyton Manning didn't get one cent," Williams said. "That’s not right. I've always had that feeling.”
Still, there's much work to be done and many details yet to be hammered out. The NCAA notes in its release that it will allow student-athletes to benefit "in a manner consistent with the collegiate model," which can be defined however the NCAA wants it to be.
“Today’s decision by the NCAA was another step in what could be a huge shift for college athletics," UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. "There is a lot to be considered before anything can be implemented.”
So what does this all mean for UNC athletics?
The short-term answer to that question is now up to the three divisions of the NCAA, who were compelled by the board to "create any new rules beginning immediately, but no later than January 2021." The board also offered the following specifics regarding any coming changes: