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NCAA Had No Choice But to Approve Player Compensation for Name, Image and Likeness

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - MARCH 22:  A view of the March Madness logo prior to the game between the Duke Blue Devils and the North Dakota State Bison during the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Colonial Life Arena on March 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C.  Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Tuesday the NCAA Board of Governors unanimously approved the idea of allowing players to the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness. Obviously there are a ton of details to be worked out from here, but it's clear the NCAA was pressured into doing this due to widespread public support for the idea. The organization had no choice but to move in this direction.

The NCAA later released a question and answer document about the decision and it's clear there is no actual plan in place yet. Among other things, the document suggest the organization still has to discuss how to implement such a system, how it will only work if it has uniform rules nationally (likely nullifying California's law that kicked off this discussion) and how to balance this with recruiting. Oh, and in the fine print it claims the new system must be "consistent with the collegiate model," so you know this isn't close to being a done deal.

So basically, nothing is decided yet, but the NCAA has signaled public support for maybe trying this model out. While that's not much as far as actual real-world progress goes, the shift in attitude is significant and unexpected. Then again, the organization had no choice.

After California passed Senate Bill 206 allowing student athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, a host of other states were ready to follow suit. The NCAA could have challenged those bills in court -- in fact, the organization still claims California's bill is unconstitutional -- but the tide of public opinion was in favor of athletes being compensated. Apparently the NCAA didn't want to be on the wrong side of history.

While nothing tangible changed on Tuesday, it is clear the momentum is on the side of student athletes being compensated. That's a good thing. Though it may take years for a system to be put in place, things are moving in the right direction.