By Charlie De Mar

CHICAGO (CBS) — The NCAA is embracing change – moving one step closer to allowing student athletes to earn money off their names, images, and likenesses.

It is a move that has been gaining momentum and could soon be a reality, as CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported Tuesday night.

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College sports rake in more than $1 billion dollars a year, and the kids putting in the work on the field don’t earn a dollar. They never have.

“This is a monumental shift in college sports,” said sports legal analyst Exavier Pope. “The pressure on the NCAA was just too much to bear.”

The NCAA ruling Tuesday will allow college athletes to earn some money. But it won’t be coming directly from the colleges – it will be tied to players’ performance on the field.

“We’ve been following the California legislation,” said Illinois state Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Westchester).

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Welch sponsored a bill similar to the one California recently signed into law last month – allowing college athletes to profit off their names, images and likenesses.

“The NCAA has a lot of archaic rules that need to be looked at again,” Welch said.

Now, the NCAA appears to be bending its longtime stance – and opening the door for students to make a couple extra bucks

“You don’t necessarily have to be paid $1 million. It could be your local Division III School being on a poster to sell pizza,” Pope said. “Allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness, in fact, takes the temptation away to take money under the table.”

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The details of how student athletes will get paid and how it will all work is still being worked out. But the NCAA has made it clear it is still opposed the state legislation in California and in Illinois because they fear it opens the door for a pay-for-play scenario.

Charlie De Mar