In April, Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press reported the NCAA was exploring a rule change that could allow college athletes to earn revenue from their names, likeness and images through sponsorship and endorsement deals as of January 2021.
However, student-athletes might not have to wait that long.
On Friday afternoon, Stadium's Brett McMurphy and the AP (h/t ESPN) reported the commissioners of the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 delivered a letter dated May 23 to congressional leaders asking them to pass a national law that would allow players to profit via merchandising, public appearances, and other such avenues:
In 3-page letter, obtained by @Stadium, Power 5 league commissioners ask Congress to “enact clear national policy on NIL & not wait for NCAA process to conclude” & “so there will be uniform national standard that will preempt state NIL laws. ... time is of the essence.” pic.twitter.com/VbaRCHTGXL— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) May 29, 2020
While California has already passed a law prohibiting the NCAA and universities from banning players to make money through endorsements and similar endeavors, that doesn't take effect until 2023.
As noted by the AP, the Power 5 commissioners clarified in the letter that they want to avoid pay-for-play agreements between athletes and schools, particularly boosters:
"First, those who participate in collegiate athletics are students, not employees. A critical aspect of the college model has been and remains that student-athletes are not paid for playing sports."
Friday's update comes at a time when fall sports, including college football, remain in doubt because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports HQ he expects "we're gonna have some difficulties" and "disruptions" playing the 2020 football season during the virus outbreak.
"We've been told to expect a bumpy road, so that's what we're preparing," Bowlsby said.