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Senate NIL Hearing Raises More Questions than Answers

by michelle
Published: Updated:

Recap: At the NIL senate hearing, all Senators agreed that collegiate athletes should have the right to monetize their NIL, that was about it. Some don’t think a federal NIL bill is necessary. On the other side of the spectrum, some think that a sweeping bill shouldn’t stop at NIL but include additional benefits such as health insurance. Somewhere in between you have the complexities of antitrust protections, compensation caps, and compliance reporting. The Senate will meet again next week to hear testimonies from collegiate athletes.

Observations: My biggest takeaway is that we seem to be far from a federal NIL bill. Given that 5+ states will have their NIL bills going into effect on July 1, the best solution for the NCAA is to pass reform at their June meetings to permit athletes to monetize their NIL in all 50 states. Even if states with NIL bills will have slightly different rules until a federal bill gets sorted out, it would be immensely better than the complications that would come out of NIL being permitted to some states and not in others.

WASHINGTON — At the conclusion of a hearing Wednesday on the issue of college athletes’ ability to make money from their name, image and likeness, Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., saluted the number of her colleagues who had participated during what became a three-hour session and said:

“You can see the determination. We’re determined to get this done. … I wish we weren’t having to deal with this. But we’re going to make sure this issue is addressed.”

The questions that remain unanswered are: When? What else — if anything — will Congress address, along with name, image and likeness? And how will the answer to the second question affect the answer to the first?

At present, the NCAA heavily restricts athletes’ ability to make money from their name, image and likeness. But seven states have passed laws that would allow this activity, beginning July 1. And while NCAA President Mark Emmert reiterated Wednesday his belief that the member schools will vote later this month to dramatically loosen their NIL rules well before the start of the 2021-22 school year, many state laws taking effect July 1 conflict with the NCAA’s proposed changes.


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