Long Overdue: Fair Compensation for College Athletes in the Works

NFLPA Teams with NCPA to advance group licensing rights for college athletes.
Bibi Wardak

November 5, 2019

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The NFL Players Association has announced it is joining forces with the National College Players Association to explore how college athletes from all sports can finally receive fair compensation for use of their name, image and likeness.

REP Worldwide, the group licensing subsidiary of NFL Players, Inc., will work with the NCPA to advance the marketing and licensing of student athletes. While waiting for key legislation to take effect, the organizations will uncover opportunities for merchandise, gaming and other officially licensed products.

The NFLPA’s announcement comes after California recently passed legislation that will allow college athletes to receive compensation. Thanks to the Fair Pay to Play Act, which was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom and co-sponsored by the NCPA, college athlete group licensing will be possible in 2023 ­– a long overdue victory for tireless athletes and a game-changer for the licensing industry’s sports sector. College athletes will soon

be allowed to hire professional and legal representation and receive compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness.

To date, schools, conferences and the National Collegiate Athletic Association have sold college athletes’ group licensing and broadcast rights and have collected the generated revenues and profits. Current NCAA regulations do not permit college athletes – no matter how grueling their schedules or how significant their stardom ­– to accept endorsement deals or any payments besides scholarships.

The pay-to-play debate has raged on for years. Though some argue in favor of not paying college athletes for varying reason, countless voices across media, politics and labor groups have intensely criticized the fairness of such a rigid policy.

“I am grateful that college athletes will finally have representation that cares only about fairness for the athletes,” says Ramogi Huma, executive director, NCPA and former UCLA football player. “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.”

REP Worldwide represents the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, Major League Soccer Players Association, United States Women’s National Team Players Association and United States Rugby Players Association.

“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," says DeMaurice Smith, executive director, NFLPA and chairman, NFL Players, Inc. “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 NCPA also plans to create an injured athlete’s fund from the generated revenues to benefit injured former players, who often have to pay for sports-related injuries out of pocket. The fund will also benefit players who suffer with cognitive disabilities associated with contact sports.

California is the only state to have passed the law thus far, but this collaboration will make group licensing available to every athlete whose state passes a similar law. Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina have reportedly taken steps to draft similar legislation.

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