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College sports are about to change dramatically and Congress must act quickly to ensure fairness.
That was the message Wednesday on Capitol Hill, during a lengthy Senate hearing on new state laws that will allow college athletes to make money using their name, image and likeness. The money would not come from the athlete’s school.
On July 1, at least five state laws come into force, allowing college athletes, among other things, to be paid for mentions, personal appearances, and social media content. They will be able to hire agents.
Also on Wednesday, Connecticut became the latest state to pass NIL legislation, short for Name, Image, and Likeness. Nearly 20 states have passed NIL laws.
After the nearly three-hour hearing in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transport, a session that focused on athletes and female witnesses, a consensus emerged between lawmakers and witnesses who appeared – Congress must pass a national NIL inequalities law with a state-by-state approach.
A major concern is the recruitment of university athletes. Will schools in states that have NIL laws have an advantage over schools in states that do not?
Yes, said Mark Few, Gonzaga’s head men’s basketball coach, who lost the NCAA tournament final to Baylor in April.
“We recruit nationally, even internationally,” said Few. “Not having the ability to compete on some kind of a level playing field, with people who can give monetary gifts or endorsements or things like that would put us at a disadvantage that we couldn’t make up for.”
Sportico legal analyst and senior legal journalist Michael McCann told the committee that it agreed that a national law would be the most sensible approach for NIL, as a way to ensure that university athletes from all over the world. countries can take advantage of financial opportunities.
A wide variety of athletes too.
“It’s not just about the star quarterback,” said McCann, adding, “by Axios, eight of the 10 most watched [on social media] [NCAA Tournament] This year’s Elite-8 basketball players were women. They could win by influencing social media. Other athletes could sponsor camps in their homes. We sometimes think of NIL as big approval deals, but that’s not necessarily it. NIL won’t make a lot of athletes rich, but it could make college a lot more affordable. “
While McCann thinks a national model makes more sense, he praised state laws for filling “a void left by the NCAA and Congress” and passing NIL laws “in a remarkably bipartisan fashion.”
As to why there was a vacuum, NCAA President Mark Emmert assumed his increasingly common position, in the hot seat, during Wednesday’s hearing.
“We had this argument [on compensating college athletes] for over a decade, “said New Mexico Senator Ben Ray Lujan.” It makes good sense. Coaches won millions of dollars while [student athletes] do nothing. Dr Emmert can you answer [why it’s taken so long]? “
“This is obviously a very difficult subject,” Emmert said. “The NCAA rules are all made by the schools themselves, through a representative body that functions much like Congress does. They have been debating, discussing and working at this time for at least three years. now. And it’s a very complicated subject Reaching a general consensus on what the outcome should be has been relatively easy – getting people to agree on the details has been extraordinarily complex. But I am hopeful. that we finally have the schools in a place where they are ready to adopt a national standard. That will not alleviate the need for federal legislation, however. ”
According to McCann, the NCAA has still not changed the rules prohibiting athletes from signing sponsorship agreements, sponsorship agreements or influence agreements. The NCAA Division 1 council meets later this month and could then act on NIL.
However, it is still not clear whether this action, or federal legislation, will replace the growing number of NIL laws passed by states.
At least one lawmaker at the hearing did not accept Emmert’s explanation that the NCAA was limited by its position and the complexity of the matter.
“Let’s be very realistic here,” said Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, longtime NCAA critic and varsity athlete rights advocate, “the NCAA is only at the table because it’s been flown here to kicking and screaming. After procrastinating and delaying too long. And they’re only here because they fear this patchwork [of a state-by-state approach]. States do indeed run upwards. NCAA Rules, Nothing Personal Dr. Emmert, runs to the lowest common denominator. And we have to prevent that from happening. “
Blumenthal, along with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who testified before the committee, promoted a bill of rights for college athletes and used the hearing as a vehicle to speak out once again on this which he says are the myriad of issues facing varsity athletes beyond the NIL compensation. Problems such as long-term health care, educational protections, sexual assault, helplessness in the face of coaches.
McCann agrees that these are “absolutely important” issues that need to be dealt with quickly. But he stressed to the committee the need for reform of the NIL “to focus on the NIL”.
“NIL gravitates towards an area of law,” McCann said, “advertising law. [it] needs immediate attention. “
Committee chair Maria Cantwell of Washington said the two-hour and 45-minute hearing proves senators are giving their full attention.
“I think, as you can see, my colleagues are ready to dig,” Cantwell said. “More than half of them participated in this and it is a great deal for a US Senate to be so active on this policy. So you can see the determination. We are determined to make it happen.”