NCAA President Emmert Seeks Congressional Help on NIL

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NCAA president Mark Emmert appeared before a committee of U.S. Senators on Tuesday, urging Congress to help “maintain uniform standards in college sports.”

The Associated Press reports that Emmert appeared as a witness before the Senate committee, which is considering the issue of whether collegiate student-athletes ought to be allowed to earn money from use of their name, image and likeness.

Emmert’s testimony comes at a time when more than 25 states are considering their own legislation to allow players to earn money from endorsement deals and by leveraging their personal brands. California’s so-called “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which would give student-athletes in the state the right to seek endorsement deals, set off a domino effect. The California law isn’t scheduled to take effect until 2023, but some states proposed laws that could go into effect as soon as this year. 

If laws governing name, image and likeness are decided on a state-by-state basis, administering those laws could become a problem, a concern expressed by Rep. Anthony Gonzalez.

“The question before us today is how can we prevent state-by-state chaos and protect the collegiate athletics system that is beloved across the nation,” Gonzalez said at the hearing. 

For its part, the NCAA has said it would allow players to “benefit” from use of their name, image and likeness — and reportedly plans to reveal new rules addressing endorsements in April. However, the NCAA has also expressed concerns about how individual state laws could open the door to corruption. 

“If implemented, these laws would give some schools an unfair recruiting advantage and open the door to sponsorship arrangements being used as a recruiting inducement,” Emmert said in his testimony. “This would create a huge imbalance among schools and could lead to corruption in the recruiting process. We may need Congress’ support in helping maintain uniform standards in college sports.”

That argument didn’t hold with some NCAA critics, who say that certain schools have built-in competitive advantages, and corruption already exists within the system. 

“The power conferences have advantages and they consistently pull the best recruits,” National College Players’ Association executive director Ramogi Huma told the AP. “They will continue to get the recruits. The reality is, you’re not going to change the recruiting by limiting the players’ opportunities.”

Lawmakers from both parties have expressed support for change while acknowledging the need for regulation.

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