Financial compensation for athletes under the NCAA governance is now a reality thanks to California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which prompted the NCAA to update its archaic policies in 2019. Ostensibly this means payment for athletes playing Division 1 football and basketball for their contributions to billion-dollar industries by enabling them to legally capitalize on their name, image and likeness for business endorsements and other opportunities. Athletes in other sports will likely do so as well, particularly those elite athletes who compete in Olympic and Paralympic sports while also representing universities.
New benefits for elite athletes
The NCAA council approved additional legislation that allows athletes designated as “elite” to represent their country. The athletes will receive this designation from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee or similar groups in their home countries to get the support necessary to compete on the Olympic stage successfully.
“The intent is to be as supportive of student-athletes, college athletes as we can be and allow them this very extraordinary singular opportunity to represent their country every four years and do that in a way that isn’t damaging to the overall college athletic model,” NCAA president Mark Emmert told USA TODAY Sports.
This policy now enables athletes to get additional support for training, including the travel expenses for parents, guardians, coaches, and other sports experts that top-tier international talent routinely uses when not under the aegis of the NCAA. Not only does this change ensure that the support will not jeopardize their NCAA eligibility, but athletes will also be able to benefit from additional coaching from their college coaches, which was previously limited.
Just in time for Tokyo
This policy change comes at an opportune time as athletes embark on their final preparation before the Tokyo games begin. This is another positive development for college athletes. Some complain about the amount of money paid to professional athletes. Yet, these changes and others to come go a long way towards ensuring that we support all deserving athletes competing at the highest levels.