Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Student college athletes and their own "right of publicity" (and the NCAA's historic bucking of common law)


USC, Columbia, 2015

Recently there has been attention to the fact that college athletes, under NCAA rules, normally can’t accept their own brand scholarships or media deals using what would normally be an exercise of their own right of publicity. Vox had an article by Terry Nguyen in Jan. 2021, link.  ABC Good Morning America discussed this issue early today but does not have a link yet. 

This means that student athletes under athletic scholarships cannot profit under their own name from their athletic careers on social media.  However other aspects of college life, like academics (outside of actual exams, for example) can normally be presented.  A few channels about college life have been very successful, such as John Fish at Harvard.  However, my understanding is that John has run track at Harvard.  He cannot show that activity on his channel (I think he mentioned that once).

The NCAA is considering a change, although there has been some confusing jockeying with the Justice Department.

This started to change when California passed a law allowing student athletes their own brands in the fall of 2019 (CNBC).  

ESPN reported on progress in these changes nationwide at NCAA in Oct. 2019.   

There is a story on Yahoo! (Nov. 2020) maintaining that athletes will have more freedom in this regard Aug. 2021.  The Comeback had discussed this issue with respect to unions and potential video games April 2020.  Fishduck has an op-ed. 

I had written an essay about similar issues in the workplace as far back as 2000.  

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