Bab­cock says pay is­sue is chal­lenge

Tech AD stresses need for ‘guardrails’

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - SPORTS - BY MIKE NIZIOLEK The Roanoke Times

BLACKSBURG — The Vir­ginia Tech ath­letic depart­ment up­dated the Board of Vis­i­tors’ gover­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion com­mit­tee this week dur­ing a vir­tual meet­ing on rule changes re­cently by the NCAA re­gard­ing name, im­age and like­ness.

The NCAA Board of Gov­er­nors rec­om­mended rule changes at the end of April that would al­low stu­dent-ath­letes to re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion for third-party en­dorse­ments as well as per­sonal ap­pear­ances and social me­dia pro­mo­tion.

“We are all for stu­dent ath­letes be­ing treated like gen­eral stu­dents be­cause they are gen­eral stu­dents,” Tech ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Whit Bab­cock said dur­ing the meet­ing on Wed­nes­day. “They hap­pened to have the abil­ity to play ath­let­ics at an in­cred­i­bly high level. So if there is a store down­town and some­body wants to model clothes for them, great. We think that’s fair.”

But Bab­cock ac­knowl­edged there are a lot of de­tails for the NCAA to work out.

“This is one of the big­ger is­sues we will tackle in our time in col­lege ath­let­ics,” Bab­cock said. “Not for hy­per­bole.”

The push comes as state gov­ern­ments have passed their own leg­is­la­tion that would al­low stu­dent-ath­letes to ben­e­fit fi­nan­cially from their name, im­age and like­ness.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has also taken in­ter­est in the is­sue.

The NCAA hopes to en­act leg­is­la­tion next year that would take ef­fect for the 2021 aca­demic year for all three di­vi­sions.

Angie Lit­tle­john, Tech’s se­nior as­so­ci­ate ath­let­ics di­rec­tor for in­ter­nal op­er­a­tions, han­dled much of the pre­sen­ta­tion to the board. She out­lined the cur­rent rules struc­ture and the NCAA’s “guid­ing prin­ci­ples” in the dis­cus­sions.

“I think the most im­por­tant thing is that our stu­dent ath­letes are to be treated sim­i­lar to non-stu­dent ath­letes,” Lit­tle­john said. “We want every­one to be treated the same.

The other kind of top pri­or­ity is mak­ing sure that we don’t al­low name, im­age and like­ness to be used to re­cruit a stu­dent ath­lete to a cer­tain school or en­tice them to trans­fer or to stay at a spe­cific in­sti­tu­tion. The other one we re­ally want to make sure that’s very clear for nu­mer­ous rea­sons is that they are stu­dents and not em­ploy­ees of the univer­sity.”

Lit­tle­john em­pha­sized the NCAA’s ef­forts to lobby Congress for leg­is­la­tion that would help “smooth the way” for the rule changes.

“The main thing that we want to make sure of is that there is some sort of fed­eral pre­emp­tion and for the non­lawyers it means there are all of these state laws that are get­ting ready to come into play and we need an over­ar­ch­ing fed­eral rule that makes the rules the same no mat­ter what state you are in,” Lit­tle­john said.

One of Bab­cock’s big­ger con­cerns is the rule changes open­ing an “in­cred­i­ble can of worms” in the re­cruit­ing process.

“Where this gets just quite dicey is when it’s of­fered in the re­cruit­ing process,” Bab­cock said. “...All of this passes with no guardrails, you can do an au­to­graph sign­ing and charge for your au­to­graph and peo­ple could pay you what­ever they wanted. Well, if it’s used in the re­cruit­ing process be­fore the value is es­tab­lished, it could be, hey, if you come here, with this sign­ing set up for you for ‘X’ amount of dol­lars.”


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