BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) – A little less than a month after California passed it’s Fair Pay to Play Act, the NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to allow student-athletes the opportunity to benefit from the use of name, image, and likeness.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University. “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.”

According to a press release from the NCAA, the vote was based on recommendations from the NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group, which will continue gathering feedback through April. However, the board is asking that divisions start creating rules immediately–and no later than January 2021.

“As a national governing body, the NCAA is uniquely positioned to modify its rules to ensure fairness and a level playing field for student-athletes,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”

CBS 42 also reached out to the SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey for his reaction to the NCAA’s announcement.

He writes, “The action of the NCAA Board of Governors today is a step in the modernization of rules related to opportunities made available to student-athletes.  We are proud of the support we provide to our student-athletes in the Southeastern Conference and believe it is important, whatever the future may hold, to maintain the elements of the current college athletics system that most effectively benefit student-athletes across the country.  We look forward to participating in a process that will produce an outcome that is thoroughly considered, fair and beneficial to student-athletes and consistent with the principles and guidelines outlined today by the NCAA Board of Governors.”

For more information about the vote from the NCAA, click here.