Taking Action

Name, Image and Likeness

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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.

“As we have previously noted, we recognize the importance of taking swift, appropriate action to modernize our rules. We also must collaborate with Congress to create a legal and legislative framework at the federal level to support name, image and likeness within the context of higher education.”

Looking Forward

The NCAA’s highest governing body has taken unprecedented steps to allow college athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness.

The Board of Governors supports rule changes to allow student-athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements both related to and separate from athletics. It also supports compensation for other student-athlete opportunities, such as social media, businesses they have started and personal appearances within the guiding principles originally outlined by the board in October 2019.
Those principles including the following:


  • 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.

  • 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 28-29, 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.

  • Sept. 1, 2020

    Each division develops initial legislative proposals.

  • Nov. 1, 2020

    Each division drafts legislation to update NIL rules.

  • Jan. 11-15 2021

    Board of Governors supports decisions by each division to delay votes on new name, image and likeness legislation pending future discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice, which had stated its interest in future changes.

  • April 2021

    Each division discusses future action on proposed name, image and likeness rules. The Board of Governors reaffirms its commitment to updating rules.

  • Summer 2021

    Each division continues discussions on future changes. Laws focused on name, image and likeness in several states across the country take effect on July 1.


Questions and Answers

Each NCAA division has developed specific proposals to further modernize these rules for student-athletes. The proposals are based on the action the NCAA Board of Governors took at its April 28, 2020 meeting, which outlines specific categories in which student-athletes could earn compensation from their name, image and likeness.

Yes. The Board of Governors directed each division to create rules using the principles and guidelines it approved in October 2019 and the recommendations it approved April 28, 2020. There are many examples now where each NCAA division has different rules, including in 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 changes consistent with the principles within the NCAA constitution and endorsed by the Board of Governors.

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. Some of these laws allow for nearly unregulated use of NIL by student-athletes, while other bills under consideration would erode the NCAA’s ability to maintain the collegiate model even further, undermining the NCAA’s model of amateur intercollegiate athletics and threatening to transform student-athletes into paid professional employees of their schools. The evolving legal and legislative landscape around these issues could not only undermine college sports as a part of higher education but also significantly limit the NCAA’s ability to meet the needs of college athletes moving forward.

Read the complete list of Q&As.