is an attorney in the Memphis office of Baker Donelson. She focuses her practice on intellectual property and complex commercial litigation.
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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recently took a step toward letting student athletes “benefit” from use of their name, image, and likeness. The move comes after California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a Fair Pay to Play Act allowing collegiate athletes in the Golden State to accept endorsement deals once the law takes effect in January 2023. On Tuesday, October 29, the NCAA’s 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.” The key phrase here is “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model,” which invokes the NCAA’s commitment to the nebulous tenet of “amateurism.” Pragmatically, this vote amounts to two things for student athletes. First, this process will not happen immediately: the Board set a deadline of January 2021 for changing the rules. Second, and most notably, the Board carefully refused to acknowledge or confirm that student athletes would actually be paid. In other words, this vote is merely a shuffle in the direction of college athlete compensation by way of their “right of publicity.”