College athletes who play for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), will now be allowed to benefit from their names, images, and likenesses.

The governing bodies of all three NCAA divisions, of which George Mason University athletics belongs to Division One, have adopted a uniform interim policy suspending their rules regarding benefiting from names, images and likenesses, or NIL, for incoming and current student athletes in all sports.

“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” stated NCAA President Mark Emmert in a press release. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level. The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”

The new interim policy states that college athletes, recruits, their families, and member schools participating in NIL activities must follow a set of rules that includes a responsibility by participating colleges and universities that such activities are consistent with state law. The policy also states that college athletes who attend a school without NIL laws can participate in such activities without fear of violating NCAA rules. 

Individuals who participate in NIL activities are also allowed to use professional service providers such as managers or agents for these activities. Athletes are also required to report their NIL activities to their schools to be consistent with state law or school and conference requirements that have been adopted for this purpose.

 This decision made by the NCAA comes after a decision made by the United States Supreme Court made in June 2020 that the association was violating antitrust law by placing limits on the education-related benefits schools can provide to athletes. The NCAA had long held a tradition of amateurism which prevented college athletes from seeking additional compensation or pay-to-play from their activities or from third party endorsement similar to those enjoyed by athletes in the NBA or the NFL.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous 9-0 decision, upheld a previous decision in the case of NCAA v. Alston which went against the NCAA on grounds of violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in the Northern District Court of California in March 2019. The NCAA filed for an appeal in the Ninth Circuit court but the decision made against the association was upheld. 

The NCAA’s new policy is not considered one of pay-for-play and is intended to remain in place until federal legislation or new NCAA rules are adopted. 

Representatives for George Mason University could be reached as of press time.

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