Amid the race against time with COVID-19 to implement fall sports, it can be easy to forget that there's also a rush within college athletics to get monumental name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation passed. With a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill next Wednesday, the Power Five members of the NCAA have drafted a NIL proposal representing the next step towards a congressional bill.
To absolutely no one's surprise, though, that draft contains numerous restrictions.
Obtained by Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, the proposal, called the Student-Athlete Equity Act of 2020, outlines the ways in which the NCAA's top conferences can govern an athlete's NIL rights through so-called "narrow safeguards." Those safeguards claim that an athlete:
- Cannot benefit from endorsements until their second semester of college
- Can be barred from entering into certain NIL deals that "violate university standards or that conflict with institutional sponsorship agreements."
- Must make NIL contracts public.
The proposal also permits the use of agents so long as they are regulated through a "Certification Office." Finally, it requests that the "NCAA, conferences and institutions will not be subjected to inappropriate liability and preempts a patchwork of inconsistent state laws." In June, Florida became the first state to sign a bill allowing college athletes to profit off of their NIL. That bill will go into effect on July 1, 2021.
"The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC have been working together to encourage Congress to create a uniform national standard to allow student-athletes to seek payment for name, image, and likeness (NIL) licensing," members of the Power Five said in a statement to Sports Illustrated. "The conferences are collaborating with members of Congress on developing legislative language to create NIL reform that is uniform, fair, and protects student-athletes."
In May, commissioners from the Power Five conferences sent a letter to Congress -- separate from the NCAA -- urging them to act in a timely manner regarding NIL legislation. That letter came precisely one month after the NCAA Board of Governors supported proposed rule changes from a working group that would pave the way for groundbreaking changes in a college athlete's NIL rights.
According to that working group, rules are expected to be written by Oct. 31 with a vote taking place no later than Jan. 31, 2021. NIL rights would be in effect for the 2021-22 athletic season.