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Statement from Federal and State Legislation Working Group co-chairs on name, image and likeness efforts

The Federal and State Legislation Working Group reported to the Board of Governors that we are continuing our efforts to provide the NCAA membership with guidance on the expansion of student-athlete name, image and likeness. We are following closely the activities of state legislatures and interest by federal lawmakers, and we share the goal of a system that is inclusive, equitable and fair to our more than 500,000 athletes nationwide. We are committed to working with key stakeholders to achieve that end.

Student-athlete benefits have expanded significantly in recent years and now amount to more than $3.5 billion annually in scholarship support alone. While we agree that changes in our rules are in order, we are striving to avoid the myriad of potential consequences that could upend a system that has opened doors for millions of young people to earn degrees and pursue dreams, in many cases debt-free. We are especially concerned about abuses and potentially harmful influences with respect to recruiting, a practice unique to college sports.

A patchwork approach — where each state possibly has different rules — may exasperate this concern and would make it impossible to conduct intercollegiate athletics at a national level. These varying laws could also undermine our commitment to provide student-athletes with broad-based offerings and comprehensive support. As a result, we are developing approaches that the NCAA Board of Governors may consider as it determines how the association can best engage with members of Congress to craft a national solution.

Finally, we reaffirm that we are committed to enhancing support to college athletes in a system that features students competing against students, and not a system in which students are paid employees. 

— Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman and Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith, Federal and State Legislation Working Group co-chairs.