NAIA set to allow student-athlete compensation

UJ Harold Newman Arena.jpg
Student-athletes at the University of Jamestown might soon be able to receive compensation for the use of their name, likeness or image. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Student-athletes at the University of Jamestown might soon be able to market themselves for profit as the power of college athletes in America appears set to shift.

UJ athletic director Sean Johnson doesn’t believe that's a bad thing.

“I think it’s about empowering student-athletes and giving them the ability that if something like that were to come along to take advantage of it,” Johnson said. “I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced earlier this month the decision by its Council of Presidents (COP) to unanimously co-sponsor the NAIA’s proposed name, image and likeness legislation. The proposed legislation, which would allow student-athletes to be compensated for appearances or advertisements that affiliate them with his or her sport or school, already had the backing for a full membership vote prior to its recent endorsement by the Council of Presidents.

The legislation will be voted on at the NAIA’s fall meeting in October. The NAIA’s Association of Student-Athletes and the National Coordinating Committee are its other co-sponsors.


“The NAIA is positioned to do the right thing at the right time,” stated Dr. Arvid Johnson, COP chair and president of the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, earlier this month in an NAIA press release. “It is clear that this is the direction in which collegiate athletics is heading and we want to be proactive in helping our student-athletes access the same opportunities as other students.”

Currently, the NAIA does not allow its amateur athletes to be paid for any public or media appearances that would reference his or her sport or school, nor does it allow athletes to be compensated for promoting commercial products and enterprises while representing their team or school.

If the proposed legislation passes in October, NAIA student-athletes will immediately be allowed to receive compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness.

The NCAA is in the process of similar action, announcing Tuesday proposed legislation that would permit its college athletes to sign endorsement contracts and receive payments for additional work as long as their school is not involved in the payment process. States such as California and Florida have passed legislation preventing players from being punished for profiting from their own names and likenesses.

“I like the fact that the NAIA is being aggressive and getting out in front of it,” Johnson said. “I think this (proposed) legislation reflects not only how national government bodies look at this, but I think it reflects how the general public looks at it and public opinion. I think that’s changed drastically.”

Johnson said he doesn’t believe the NAIA’s proposed legislation would have a drastic effect on the University of Jamestown. Student-athletes would be required to notify their institution’s athletic director in writing of any compensation received in relation to their school or status as a student-athlete.

“I don’t think it’s going to have a big impact on us,” Johnson said. “I think you could possibly see if we had a team that won a national championship or an All-American player that was very charismatic that, possibly, a local business would want to use that student-athlete in some kind of endorsement or advertising. That could happen.”

Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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