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Board of Governors supports postponing name, image and likeness votes

Members agree with moving forward as soon as feasible

The Association’s top governing body, meeting virtually Wednesday as part of the 2021 NCAA Convention, reaffirmed its commitment to providing name, image and likeness opportunities to all college athletes at the first viable opportunity.

Citing recent judicial, political and governmental enforcement events, including communication from the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division, the Board of Governors supported postponing anticipated votes in all three divisions until the NCAA can gather additional relevant information.

The Division I Council and Division II Presidents Council have tabled or withdrawn these votes, and Division III presidents will meet Thursday. The board last year directed the divisions to adopt new name, image and likeness rules to further support student-athletes.

“While any postponement certainly is disappointing, we support conducting the appropriate due diligence to ensure we are effectively modernizing rules to ensure the best possible experience for our  students engaged in intercollegiate athletics,” said John J. DeGioia, board chair and president of Georgetown.

“We stand committed to allowing all students engaged in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model. The board encourages the divisions to consider the impact of these external forces and continue their thoughtful work. We must improve name, image and likeness opportunities as quickly as possible, given the circumstances.”

In a resolution approved unanimously by the board, it stated in part, that while the “NCAA believes its legislative proposals are fully compliant with U.S. antitrust laws, taking time to better understand the landscape and specific concerns of regulators would be prudent prior to moving forward with voting on legislative proposals.”

Diversity and equity initiatives

The board was also briefed on the “Bill Russell Rule,” adopted by some in the NCAA’s membership, which directs schools to include a person from a traditionally underrepresented community in a pool of final candidates for athletics director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coach positions. Board members agreed it may be one useful strategy to increase diverse leadership in college sports, encouraging its implementation by NCAA schools and conferences across the country where compliant with state laws and regulations.

Further, the board urged all NCAA member schools to examine the results of their hiring decisions since signing the Presidential Pledge to determine whether adequate progress has been made. The board also asked members to share with its Committee To Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity other plans and actions that have contributed to success.

“Throughout society and college sports in particular, we must continue a steadfast focus on improving equity in senior leadership roles,” DeGioia said. “Greater inclusion not only creates opportunity, but it benefits all, including our students engaged in athletics, through richer perspectives, better decision-making and greater understanding.”

New vice chair named

In other business, the board elected Sandra Jordan as vice chair. Jordan currently serves as chancellor at South Carolina Aiken and as chair of the Division II Presidents Council.