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It may be consequential, it may not. But for the first time since new NCAA president Charlie Baker took office, Congress will conduct a hearing Wednesday on name, image and likeness regulations that have drastically changed college sports.

"Taking the Buzzer Beater to the Bank: Protecting College Athletes' NIL Dealmaking Rights" was assembled by a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bipartisan Subcommittee on Innovation Date and Commerce will dig into one of the most significant and divisive issues in college athletics' history.

Since July 1, 2021, college athletes have been able to capitalize financially on their names, images and likenesses. Critics, including Baker, claim the landscape has become unregulated. The NCAA continues to seek an antitrust exemption from Congress that would supersede myriad state NIL laws.

A Congressional press release on the hearings referenced a survey that stated a majority of "U.S. adults" believe college athletes should be able to profit from brand partnerships (58%), licensed products (59%) and autograph signings (54%) under current NCAA guidelines.

Meanwhile, Baker has been busy on Capitol Hill lobbying legislators for that exemption.

Baker's background makes it clear what the NCAA wanted when it hired him. The former Republican governor of Massachusetts was seen as a bipartisan leader in a blue state.

Baker started with the NCAA on March 1; the hearing was announced two weeks later on March 14.

"There is no transparency [in NIL]. There's no accountability. There are no standards. And we're putting student-athletes and families in a rough position because of that," Baker told the Indianapolis Star. "Every deal's a one-off and one of the athletic directors said this, not just to me, she also said it publicly, 'The only thing that is true about NIL is everybody lies.'"

In the NIL era, athletes have become off-field stars on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and in major advertising campaigns. Former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young did a series of commercials for Dr. Pepper, an official sponsor of the College Football Playoff. 

Wednesday's hearing is chaired by Rep. Gus Biliarkis (R-Florida), who recently wrote an op-ed stating there needs to be a national NIL standard. 

While there has been a huge outcry regarding NIL regulation, no bill has made it out of committee.

"I'm a college football man, certainly not something reflective of political will or capital on Washington D.C. I don't see the political appetite to tackle this right now," Ingram Smith, CEO of Florida State's The Battles End Collective, told CBS Sports. 

Collectives have become a flashpoint in the NIL discussion. The organizations attempt to sign athletes to NIL agreements sometimes skirting the line between third-party company and hometown boosters.

The NCAA has attempted to crack down on NIL wrongdoing. In January, the enforcement division was given permission to pursue cases based on circumstantial evidence.

Among the issues to be discussed at Capitol Hill on Wednesday:

  • Should college athletics follow a different compensation model than professional sports?
  • Who should be allowed to negotiate and coordinate NIL deals?
  • What entity should be responsible for enforcing NIL laws?
  • How does the lack of a national NIL standard impact competition and recruiting?
  • -How would a revenue sharing model impact a university's ability to fund non-revenue sports?

Scheduled to speak at the hearing:

  • Jennifer Heppel, Patriot League commissioner
  • Makola Abdullah, Virginia State president
  • Trey Burton, former Florida and NFL tight end
  • Kaley Mudge, Florida State softball player
  • Pat Chun, Washington State athletic director
  • Jason Stahl, executive director of the College Football Players Association (CFPA)