The Commission on College Basketball danced around whether college athletes should be able to cash in on their names, images and likenesses, but Condoleezza Rice's remarks to the Indianapolis-based NCAA suggested she thinks it is good idea.
"We don't believe that the NCAA can legislate in this area until the legal parameters become clearer," the former U.S. Secretary of State said Wednesday morning in Indianapolis while presenting the commission's findings to NCAA leaders. "That said, most commissioners believe that the rules on name, image, and likeness should be taken up as soon as the legal framework is established.
"It is hard for the public, and frankly for me, to understand what can be allowed within the college model—for the life of me, I don't understand the difference between Olympic payments and participation in 'Dancing with the Stars'—and what can't be allowed without opening the door to professionalizing college basketball," Rice said.
Rice, the chairwoman of the commission, presented a 60-page report to NCAA leaders Wednesday that recommended sweeping changes for college basketball—from NBA draft rules to youth basketball to NCAA rules enforcement.
The commission clearly stated it did not believe college basketball players should be paid a salary for competition. But something similar to an Olympic model, where athletes are compensated by outside sources, could be workable—once the courts work though the issue.
In a case brought by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon, a judge ruled that the NCAA for years inappropriately used the names, images and likenesses, or NIL, for athletes and said the NCAA should be required to allow schools to pay athletes for NIL. An appeals court vacated that requirement to allow payments of limited deferred compensation.
Rice's mention of "Dancing with the Stars" was a reference to Notre Dame basketball star Arike Ogunbowale's upcoming appearance on the popular ABC show. Ogunbowale became a national star during the women's Final Four when she made game-winning buzzer-beaters in the semifinals and final.
She was asked to go on the show, but needed a waiver from the NCAA to participate and accept any benefits. Otherwise, she could have put her eligibility in jeopardy. The NCAA granted the waiver because the show was unrelated to her basketball abilities.
In another case involving a college athlete earning money away from the field, Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye was ruled ineligible last year for running a YouTube channel that sold advertisements. De La Haye gave up football rather than his channel.
"Personally, I hope that there will be more room in the college model today for this kind of benefit to students without endangering the college model itself," Rice said. "And let me just say that I hope Arike wins "Dancing with the Stars."