Leader of the NCAA, the most influential umbrella organization in university sports, existed for months that they are keen to move forward with new guidelines to provide players with greater economic opportunities. And while many athletics leaders pushed the 115-year-old federation to relax its long-standing restrictions, the college sports industry now acts largely because it had little choice.

In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas, laws or executive orders will go into effect Thursday that will allow college athletes to make money using their names, pictures, and likeness. More than a dozen other states have adopted similar measures with later entry into force. But Congress got in a setback to the NCAA no agreement reached to override state laws and write a standard in federal law.

While many administrators still hope that the federal government will act at some point, the plethora of state laws – often denounced as “patchwork” by athletics officials – threatened to create an immediate imbalance in college sports. Schools in states with legal guarantees that students could potentially make money, the argument goes, would be better positioned to recruit potential players and would draw the greatest future talent to a handful of schools. The NCAA’s decision to intervene, executives hope, will avert the worst possible inequalities, at least for a short time.

Still, the road to Monday’s recommendation was speckled with internal fighting, caution, threats and last-minute maneuvers. No recent development has been more momentous than the Supreme Court ruling last week, which undermined the NCAA’s approach to antitrust law and urged the industry to give athletes more rights than top executives once expected.

The NCAA v Alston case was closely focused on educational benefits such as academic awards and paid internships, but the court’s unanimous ruling removed some of the legal precedents that the association and its members had relied on for decades for protection. The decision unnerved college sports officials, many of whom were already drained by seemingly endless legal battles, and heightened concerns that a string of tough NCAA name, image, and likeness rules would create more legal challenges and perhaps even more pronounced defeats .