Student-athletes in the United States may move a step closer to receiving financial compensation, when a group of university leaders on Thursday are expected to allow the wealthiest collegiate sports programs to leave behind decades-old restrictions and chart a self-governing course.
The embattled National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Board of Directors is scheduled to vote in Indianapolis, as it faces legal and public pressure to share its billions in revenue with athletes.
The vast majority of student-athletes never go on to play professionally, and critics say the NCAA's current scholarship policy short-changes athletes who risk injury and devote many hours to practice, travel and competition.
For the new structure to pass, it must get a majority of yes votes from the NCAA's 18 directors, which comprise college presidents and chancellors. That would give the top five athletic conferences autonomy to shape their own rules and possibly ease regulations on agents, recruiting and pay.
The NCAA, which does not allow students to earn money for their athletic performance, has been sued by former and current athletes in U.S. court demanding a share of profits that includes tens of billions in guaranteed television money.
This year, it settled cases along with video game maker Electronic Arts for using the likenesses of current and former football and men's basketball players in video games.
The NCAA also faces a unionization push by scholarship football players at Northwestern University who want the right to have a say in benefits and compensation.