As legislation paving the way for collegiate student-athletes to earn money from their name, image and likeness gains traction in state legislatures around the country, the NCAA is also beginning to face increased pressure from the federal level.
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, speaking at a roundtable on Wednesday, issued what the Raleigh News & Observer called “a stern warning to the NCAA.”
“I know there are people who think we can hold this off,” Romney said, “We’re not going to make a change here. But the reality is Congress is going to act.”
“We’re coming for you. We’re coming to help these young athletes in the future, and the athletes of today, make sure that they don’t have to sacrifice their time and sacrifice, in many cases, their bodies, without being fairly compensated.”
According to the News & Observer, Romney made the remarks at a roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who introduced a bill in March that would block the NCAA from prohibiting student-athletes from making money from the use of their name, image and likeness. The NCAA was also invited to participate in the discussion, but reportedly declined.
The issue of name, image and likeness has bipartisan support. Romney is just the latest high-profile politician to come out in support of some kind of change to name, image and likeness regulations, and joins New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who last week released a plan for college athletics reform that includes changes to allow student-athletes to profit from use of their name, image and likeness. Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate, is also a former Stanford University football player.
While the NCAA has generally been opposed to laws that would regulate it, such as California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the governing body has appointed a working group to evaluate the issue of name, image and likeness. That working group is expected to present recommendations to the NCAA board of governors later this month or early next.