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NCAA vote may allow student-athletes in ads

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Active Ohio State student-athletes have never been allowed to appear in corporate advertisements.

That will change for the Buckeyes and all Division I student-athletes if the NCAA Division I Athletic Council passes proposed legislation, which would allow game clips of current players to appear in advertisements. The council is expected to vote today at the NCAA convention in San Antonio.

The relationship between the corporation and the university would have to be clearly stated.

For example, Nike Inc., which outfits OSU’s athletic teams, could use highlights from this football season in its ads as long as it included something like “a proud corporate sponsor of Ohio State athletics,” said Michael Rogers, NCAA Amateurism Cabinet chairman.

The cabinet is in charge of drafting the proposed legislation to alter current standards of amateurism, but it is not the only council involved.

“This is a highly collaborative process,” Rogers said. “You try to get all of the stakeholders involved.”

In doing so, he said, the cabinet reviewed proposed legislation from previous years along with feedback from university presidents and input from student-athlete advisory committees.

“I know the issue but I’m just going to have to think about that,” OSU President E. Gordon Gee said in an interview with The Lantern. “I’m not a corporate guy. I’m an old- school guy. I don’t believe in playoffs or anything. Anything that is a slippery slope toward professionalization I have to be very careful about.”

Despite the reduced restriction on the use of student-athletes’ images, many limitations will remain.

“Direct endorsement is clearly prohibited, (and) then there are some other limits and … consents that have to be obtained,” Rogers said. “The last thing we are trying to do is exploit student-athletes.”

Others argue that the new legislation will do just that.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany firmly opposes the legislation and told The Chronicle of Higher Education it was “the essence of exploitation.”

Rogers said he understands his committee’s decision will be controversial.

With “something like this you are never going to come up with a piece of legislation that everyone thinks is perfect,” he said. “What you try to do is strike the right balance.”

If the athletic council feels that balance has been struck and passes the legislation, it will move on to the Division I Board of Directors for final approval. The committee can also choose to defeat the rule change or send it back to NCAA members for further review.

If that is the case, Rogers said he expects his committee to be responsive.

“I’ll be interested to see what they say and respond accordingly,” he said. “If we need to retool it or tamper it in some fashion, we can certainly do that.”

The OSU compliance office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on its stance on the legislation.

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