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NCAA decision paves way for Washington bill to pay college athletes

A monumental decision for the future of the NCAA came in Tuesday. (AP)

The NCAA Board of Governors took the first step Tuesday toward allowing amateur athletes to cash in on their fame, voting unanimously to permit them to “benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness.”

Washington state rep: NCAA ‘like a cartel,’ needs to pay athletes

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said the chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, Michael Drake, in a news release.

This marks a victory for recently-approved California legislation, allowing the state’s college athletes to pursue outside sponsorships and retain an agent.

Washington is set to consider its own version of that bill during the next legislative session, after facing opposition from the state’s biggest universities in early-2019.

“I think the biggest obstacle is the universities looking in the mirror, deciding that they want to do the right thing for their students and their athletes, and being on the right side of history,” Washington State Rep. Drew Stokesbary told MyNorthwest shortly after California approved its bill in September.

Push to pay NCAA athletes in Washington crosses political lines

The NCAA had previously said state laws that contradict the national governing body’s rules could lead to athletes being declared ineligible or schools not being allowed to compete.

This latest decision from the Board of Governor’s could effectively head off that eventuality. California’s bill goes into effect in 2023, while a working group commissioned by the Board of Governors has been asked to figure out a way forward by January 2021.

That working group will act on recommendations from the board to “consider modernization of bylaws and policies” related to athletes being able to profit off of using their names, image, and likeness.

There is also a federal bill in the works, sponsored by North Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, that could prevent the NCAA and its member schools from restricting its athletes from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses to third-party buyers on the open market.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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