Oct. 29 (UPI) -- The NCAA -- the main governing body of college athletics -- voted unanimously to allow student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. The vote came during a board of governors meeting Tuesday in Atlanta.
The NCAA's top decision makers participated in the decision at Emory University, with the board directing the three divisions of college athletics to determine how to update their rules, while making a clear "distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities."
"We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes," board chairman Michel Drake said in a statement. "Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education.
"This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships."
The board said the "modernization" should "make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible" and that student-athletes are students first and not university employees.
"As a national governing body, the NCAA is uniquely positioned to modify its rules to ensure fairness and a level playing field for student-athletes," NCAA president Mark Emmert said. "The board's action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals."
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Big East commissioner Val Ackerman presented recommendations to board members on how to implement the changes. Smith and Ackerman lead a working group formed by the NCAA after multiple politicians proposed bills in support of college athletes profiting from their name, image and likeness.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom formally signed a bill Sept. 30 that allows college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness in his state. Other states have been considering similar legislation.
The board wants each of the three divisions of college athletics to implement the new rules by January 2021.