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NCAA votes to approve payments to student athletes

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which governs university sports in the US, has reached a deal that could lead to college athletes getting paid.

The agreement was reached on Thursday after the NCAA voted alongside five league conferences to make the ground-breaking change.

It would allow schools to pay athletes a cut of the revenue their sports generate.

The deal also includes $2.8bn (£2.2bn) in damages for current and former student athletes.

The deal comes as a settlement to three separate antitrust actions against the NCAA.

The plaintiffs in each case still must vote on the deal and a federal judge must approve it before the change is finalised, a process that could take months.

“The five autonomy conferences and the NCAA agreeing to settlement terms is an important step in the continuing reform of college sports that will provide benefits to student-athletes,” the NCAA and conferences said in a joint statement.

“We look forward to working with our various student-athlete leadership groups to write the next chapter of college sports.”

For most of the history of the NCAA, college athletes did not receive any compensation.

In 2021, the US Supreme Court struck down limits on compensation for those athletes.

Since then, they have been allowed to profit from their name, image or likeness to make money from things like endorsement deals.

The new rules, in which athletes are paid for their participation on teams through a portion of the revenue, are due to begin in the 2025-26 academic year at the earliest.

The five conferences will start revenue-sharing around $20m (£15.76m) per year with players, or 22% of annual athletic department revenue, a source confirmed to Front Office Sports.

However, many of the final details of how the payment will work must still be fleshed out, according to reports.

The agreement on Thursday was reached between lawyers for the plaintiffs, the NCAA and the Power Five conferences.

One of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, Steve Berman, told USA Today his side was “ecstatic to get this done”.

“When we started this, I never dreamed of this day. It’s a revolutionary moment in college sports.”

Jeffrey Kessler, another plaintiff lawyers, said: “The time to bring a fair compensation system to college athletes has finally arrived.”

University sports in the US are big business.

The 65 universities in the top five athletic conferences generated a combined total of more than $3.3bn (£2.6bn) in revenue from their American football programmes alone in 2022.

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