NCAA to the rescue

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The NCAA tries, bless its heart.

But in wake of California lawmakers putting into law the possibility of “student-athletes” being compensated for use of their own names (imagine that!), now the college athletics overlords must react to what seems to be inevitable: college athletes will be paid for their names, as it should be.

The two biggest questions are how and how soon.

And with that inevitability now standing in front of them like so many Brinks trucks at a March Madness venue, the NCAA has decided to try and help.

Sort of. In their own NCAA-type of way. Which is to say, the organization is being unclear about how they will contribute to this wave, but they want everyone to know that they will, in fact, play a huge role in doing something that should’ve been done years ago: compensating players fairly.

The NCAA’s Board of Governors has voted unanimously to permit student-athletes to benefit from their names, images and likeness.

That’s where the “how?” and “how long?” comes into play.

“As a national governing body, the NCAA is uniquely positioned to modify its rules to ensure fairness and a level playing field for student-athletes,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert in a statement Tuesday. “The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”

Now, before you spit out your coffee completely after reading that statement, please allow me to translate for you.

The NCAA is scared silly of possible recruiting violations that could result if players are allowed to be paid. However, the NCAA is also scared silly of how the organization will appear if it doesn’t respond to the oncoming changes. One assumes – and yes, it’s dangerous to assume with the NCAA – that the organization will begin a thorough, thoughtful and FAIR planning process of how these benefits will be handled, distributed and regulated.

The politicians are coming around to the notion that this needs to happen sooner, rather than later. The NCAA is staying it’s on board, but only if whatever system that is devised is done so “consistent with the values of college sports.”

In other words, the politicians will be working with the NCAA to devise a system of fairness for the “student-athletes.”

Stay tuned.