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NCAA: New Bill Offers Way Forward on NIL

Andy Berg

The NCAA on Monday released a statement praising a new bipartisan bill that would allow student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.

The bill was introduced by Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) was introduced in September but was not acted upon before that Congressional session ended. The most recent version includes two new stipulations according to the USA TODAY:

  • In addition to allowing the NCAA, conferences and schools to prohibit athletes from having sponsorship deals with certain types of companies, like tobacco companies or brands, it now has a parity clause. If the NCAA, a conference or a school did prohibit athletes from having deals in a certain business category, then that entity also would not be allowed have a sponsorship deal with a company in that category.
  • The new version also would appear to give athletes greater leeway to make endorsement deals with shoe and apparel companies. The new version says a school can prohibit an athlete from “wearing any item of clothing or gear with the insignia of any entity during any athletic competition or athletic-related university-sponsored event.” This would mean that an athlete attending a non-athletic event or studying abroad could wear apparel in connection with an endorsement contract. 

“We value the bipartisan nature of U.S. Reps. Gonzalez and Cleaver to again collaborate across party lines and sponsor legislation to support student-athletes,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Their House bill will strengthen the college athlete experience and support the NCAA and its members to modernize name, image and likeness rules but not pay student-athletes or turn them into employees of their college or university. Moreover, the Gonzalez-Cleaver legislation would create a legal and legislative framework to preserve and enhance the mission of college sports: that students can play the sport they love and earn a degree – often with a full scholarship and no debt – and set themselves up for a lifetime of success. We look forward to continuing to work with both lawmakers, their co-sponsors and other members of Congress on these important measures.”

"We thought that it's time for us to put a stake in the ground so that we can begin to talk and negotiate on this issue," Cleaver told USA TODAY Sports. "We obviously realize we've got to reconcile a House bill with a Senate bill. At this point, there's no hostility. It's not like the House version versus the Senate version. . . . All of us pretty much want the same thing. This is a civil rights issue and we want to set the athletes free — not unlike what Moses did."

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