It’s been more than a year since CJ Walker has been able to suit up for an NCAA basketball game. After transferring from Florida State to Ohio State and sitting out the 2018-19 season, Walker has walked the campus and seen the sights.
It helped afford him a perspective when the NCAA’s Board of Governors announced a process Tuesday to allow student-athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses.
“It’s always been a topic of discussion, especially being at a big university like The Ohio State,” he said. “Your jersey, your pictures are everywhere throughout campus and different advertisements so it’s something you always want to know about, but you could never figure out the details or know who to talk to about it.
“I would say it was always a topic of conversation, being able to benefit in some way from your image and likeness. I feel like it’s a great opportunity for athletes throughout D-I, period.”
>>VIDEO: Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann on new NCAA image and likeness guidelines
The NCAA’s announcement came less than an hour before the Buckeyes’ 24th practice of the preseason and barely 15 minutes removed from the public announcement.
As he did at Big Ten media day in early October, Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann voiced his support of the move that was pushed along by the unanimous passing of California SB 206 — known as the “Fair Pay to Play Act” — earlier in the month.
“I like it,” Holtmann said. “The NCAA’s a pretty easy target for everybody and I think we get that. People forget we’re all a part of it.
“I think that what they have done and what the people in charge have done in the last couple years in terms of cost of attendance and eliminating the silly things in terms of limitations on food you can provide to your players have all been really good. I think we all recognize this is just a matter of time for this to get done. Some could say it’s long overdue.
“Like most of my colleagues, I’m in favor. How it works and how you make it work in terms of teaching your guys about filing taxes and all those things that are going to go along with it. There’s a lot that goes into it but this is a good step.”
As part of its announcement, the NCAA said that the modernization of the current model must occur within a list of nine principles and guidelines. Among them: “Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.”
All three divisions are now asked to create new rules no later than January 2021.
“I haven’t really done too much research on it or looked into it too deep,” OSU sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr. said. “I just heard about it, saw it on social media, maybe looked at a few articles here and there but I don’t really know much about the details. But should be good for us, you know? Hopefully it’ll do what it does up here pretty soon.”Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter
The NCAA’s news release quoted Ohio State president Michael V. Drake, who is also chair of the NCAA’s board.
“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Drake said in the statement. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”
Holtmann said he’s not spoken with Drake on the issue but that he’s had multiple conversations with Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who has been heavily involved with the topic, to understand what is happening.
“Gene’s playing a significant role in this,” Holtmann said. “Gene and I have had multiple conversations. We just talked (Monday). He’s kept me in the loop on some of the changes that are coming and he’s helped me understand the complexity of it, which probably people aren’t always willing to listen to.”