NCAA working group to deliver preliminary suggestions for name, image and likeness rule changes

A "set of principles" regarding the name, image and likeness rights for college athletes will be presented Tuesday by a working group to the NCAA Board of Governors. Details of those principles were not shared by Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, a member of that high-profile working group, who spoke to CBS Sports.

"We are coalescing on a set of principles that adhere as close to the collegiate model as possible," Bowlsby said. "We'll be posing some questions to the Board of Governors about how they want us to proceed from here."

Bowlsby stressed that the working group's actions are preliminary in the process. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, the working group's co-chair, cautioned that Tuesday's release "won't be much."

"It's not going to be a short process," Bowlsby said. "There aren't going to be any answers on [Tuesday]. We actually, I think, came to a comfortable place for most of the people in the room."

The NCAA Board of Governors' Federal and State Legislation Working Group was formed in May. NCAA sources have pointed out that the earliest the NCAA could have formal legislation through the typical process would be January 2021.

However, it is possible that -- perhaps well before then -- multiple states could have their own NIL laws allowing athletes to be compensated beyond the NCAA limit of room, board, books, tuition and cost of attendance.

Florida's governor this week seemed agreeable to signing a bill that was presented earlier this month. The Florida law would go into effect July 1, 2020. A California law already in place is due to take effect in 2023.

"We can't operate national recruiting, a national competition environment with 15 different rules in 15 different states," Bowlsby said. "It's impractical, and it's not possible."

The debate rages because the NCAA does not allow athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. Ability to profit off those qualities is basically a birthright to every other U.S. citizen.

"Everybody believes that change is timely and necessary," Bowlsby said. "We ought to look at things in light of modern circumstances. But we also believe the collegiate model has certain components to it that's not appropriate to compare it to the Olympic model, and it's not appropriate to compare it to professional sports."

Bowlsby has an extensive background working with the United States Olympic Committee. The so-called "Olympic model" gives athletes the opportunity to profit off their notoriety in order to earn money for such things as training.

"Allowing some kind of structure that would allow kids to keep their prize money or put it in a trust or use it for training expenses, those kinds of things certainly are topics that we need to talk about," Bowlsby said.

What is due Tuesday was initially termed "a final report" -- when the working group was formed five months ago -- but is now expected to be more of a jumping off point. Bowlsby stressed that the working group in its release will be looking for that guidance from that Board of Governors, the NCAA's highest governing body.

Nine of the 19 members of the working group are from Power Five schools. However, all three divisions are represented on the roster.  

"I think there will be some opportunity for permissiveness," Bowlsby said. "Anything that appears to be a proxy for pay for play [will not be allowed]."

The process involved the working group interviewing an Ivy League wrestler. Dylan Geick came out as a high school All-American in suburban Chicago. That made him one of the few openly gay athletes in college athletes when he got to Columbia University.

When Outsports.com wrote a profile on him, Geick's popularity exploded. It wouldn't be hyperbole to say Geick has become an icon on social media with a quarter of a million Instagram followers. If Geick was allowed an agent and/or manager, that would drill down to one of the core debates on the issue. Social media status means that, in this day and age, his popularity could be monetized.

Should the NCAA be able to restrict athletes from capitalizing on their celebrity, whether it has anything to do with athletics, just because they're on scholarship?

"I have no problem with that," said Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez. "If somebody is ingenious enough, and they can figure out a way to make some money online, I don't have any problem with that."

Several attempts to contact Geick were not successful. His Columbia coach, Zach Tanelli, would only say Geick has taken the semester off.

The formation of the working group itself was a huge step for the NCAA. Mounting legal and public pressure at least made it possible for athletes to be viewed as an unpaid labor force. In all NCAA divisions, the association struggles with athletes' sports being job unto themselves.

In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern football players could unionize. The following year, the NLRB declined to exert its jurisdiction in the case, effectively ending the unionization bid.

Meanwhile, the ongoing Alston v. NCAA anti-trust lawsuit seeks unrestricted compensation for athletes. In ruling on that lawsuit, Judge Claudia Wilken included a scathing criticism of the NCAA saying some existing athletes' benefits could be construed as "pay for play." The NCAA has appealed the Alston decision.

Adding to the debate: A 2015 Pac-12 study found that athletes spent an average of 50 hours a week on their respective sports. NCAA rules limit time spent on a sport to 20 hours per week.

At the time, the Pac-12 concluded in its study athletes were often "too exhausted to study effectively."

Since then, reforms have provided unprecedented improvements in athletes' quality of life. They are now allowed three square meals a day as well as snacks in between. The NCAA once famously balked at cream cheese on a bagel being extravagant. In same cases, health benefits have also improved.

Last month, NCAA president Mark Emmert called the name, image and likeness debate an "existential threat" to the collegiate model

There is anything but a consensus on the issue. Some significant voices have risen up in favor of such rights. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has spoken out in favor of the California law. Atlantic-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said this month there is a need for an updated "collegiate amateur model.

NCAA legislation might be the best solution if the association can somehow stiff-arm implementation of state laws. If not, there is speculation the federal government could get involved with a national law.

On campus, the likes of Bowlsby and Alvarez are concerned with the recruiting landscape. If name, image and likeness rights are granted, they argue, what's to keep a local car dealership from dangling in front of a recruit a six-figure offer to endorse his business?

"You have to eliminate the recruitment part of it," Alvarez said. "That's the hardest part. That could get out of hand. I always think like a coach. If you can have sponsors, you can have an agent. There's a can of worms there."

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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