College sports aren’t just about athletic competition—they’re also big business. Some schools make more than a hundred million dollars a year through their sports programs. The money mostly comes from men’s basketball and football, from things like ticket and merchandise sales. Top coaches earn millions of dollars a year. The athletes, however, make nothing.
That’s because the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) banned student athletes from accepting money for playing—except for scholarships and other college costs. The NCAA, which governs college sports, says its athletes are students first and should not be paid professionals.
But college athletes are about to get a chance at a payday. Under new NCAA rules, players would be able to profit from the use of their name, image, or likeness. Further details are coming soon. College athletes might be able to sell their autographs, sign deals with sneaker companies, or get paid to appear in video games. They couldn’t be paid by their schools, however.
College athletes have long pushed to be able to profit from their talent and popularity, especially as college sports have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry. But it wasn’t until this past September, when California passed a law that would allow its college athletes to sign endorsement deals, that the NCAA changed its rules. Other states are considering similar laws.
The NCAA says it needs to set the standards so players have equal opportunities nationwide.