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UW-L economic professor: NCAA ruling could impact D3 athletes

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) –  Local college athletes could benefit from an NCAA rule change, according to an economic professor at UW-La Crosse.

The NCAA board recently voted to allow athletes to profit from their names, images, and likenesses.

The NCAA is the national governing body for collegiate athletics. It said its decision followed input over the past few months from “current and former student-athletes, coaches, presidents, faculty, and commissioners across all three divisions.”

According to NPR, the NCAA has reported annual revenues topping $1 billion, largely on the strength of TV rights and marketing fees connected with its most prominent sports and events, such as the highly lucrative Division 1 men’s basketball tournament.

And though the organization long argued that it was converting those revenues into scholarships and other opportunities for students, that line had lately attracted prominent skeptics.

Now, Wisconsin lawmakers are preparing a bill that would allow college athletes to hire agents and profit from their names starting in 2023.

The bill is similar to California’s Fair Pay to Play Act signed into law in September. The Wisconsin proposal would make it illegal for state universities to revoke an athlete’s scholarship or eligibility for taking money through endorsements, autograph signings, or social media advertising.

The bill also would ban the NCAA from penalizing schools for allowing student-athletes to be compensated for use of their name, image, or likeness.

Adam Hoffer, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, has done research for more than a decade on this topic. He also played D3 football at Washington and Jefferson College.

Hoffer said this ruling is long overdue in the NCAA world. “For the longest time the NCAA had a strict rule that you could not earn compensation…I think this is a big step in the right direction.”

Hoffer said the majority of effects will be at the higher levels, in D1 schools. But, he does think athletes at D3 schools like UW-La Crosse will benefit.

“Division 3 athletes for starters, they aren’t on scholarships. I think that this gives D3 athletes an opportunity to perhaps capitalize on a little bit of local celebrity they might be able to create if they’re performing well or in the spotlight.”

“I don’t imagine that these are going to be million-dollar deals for Division 3 athletes, but maybe it’s a smaller endorsement deal, maybe it’s a Topper’s ad. They’re not on scholarship so even a couple thousand dollars would be a really big deal for our athletes,” described Hoffer.

The Board of Governors’ action directs each of the NCAA’s three divisions to immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century.

According to the NCAA, the working group will continue to gather feedback through April on how best to respond to the state and federal legislative environment and to refine its recommendations on the principles and regulatory framework. The board asked each division to create any new rules beginning immediately, but no later than January 2021.

Brittany Lake

Daybreak Anchor

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