As multiple states consider bills that would provide college athletes to earn money without losing their eligibility, a college athletics advisory group is partnering with the NFL Players Association to explore how best to monetize name, image and likeness rights.
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Under the deal’s terms, the National College Players Association, a group that co-sponsored a recently passed California bill that allows athletes to earn money from endorsement deals, will work with REP Worldwide, an NFLPA subsidiary. The two groups “will explore opportunities for merchandise, gaming and other officially licensed products” as well as “how recent developments impact television broadcast revenues,” according to a press release.
“REP Worldwide was created to offer all athletes the same world-class service that NFL players have when companies want to partner with athletes to market their likeness, image and personalities," NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with the NCPA to offer this service to students who are also athletes. For the first time, a legislature has indicated that these students have rights just like everyone else and we support this continuing movement towards fairness.”
The organizations said the initiative would provide representation services to college athletes interested in monetizing their name, image or likeness in any state that has legalized it. The NCPA said it would also establish a fund that would use a portion of revenue to support athletes contending with medical expenses related to their collegiate careers.
Established as a nonprofit advocacy group, the NCPA represents more than 20,000 current and former college athletes and has established similar partnerships with the Major League Soccer Players Association, the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Associations and several other athlete unions.
“I am grateful that college athletes will finally have representation that cares only about fairness for the athletes. We are on the right side of history and invite the NCAA’s commercial partners to join us. It’s time to embrace a new beginning. America should be a place where all citizens can benefit from free enterprise and equal rights are guaranteed,” said former UCLA football player and NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma.
The NCAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the initiative.
Passed earlier this year, California’s Fair Pay to Play Act will allow college athletes in the state to earn income from endorsement deals without losing college eligibility. The law is scheduled to take effect in 2023 despite NCAA and Pac 12 opposition.
Similar bills are set to be or have already been put up for consideration in South Carolina, New York, Colorado, New Jersey and other states.
The NCAA has long resisted efforts by current and former college athletes to pursue of share of revenue generated by lucrative college sports such as basketball and football, arguing that payments to athletes would unbalance the recruiting process and go against the spirit of amateurism.