Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said this week that Congress would be working on national legislation to address student athletes’ ability to profit from their names, images and likenesses.
Romney spoke at a roundtable on Wednesday, according to CBS News. The roundtable featured ESPN analyst Jay Bilas (a former college basketball standout) and Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) who has introduced a federal bill called the Student Equity Act. Per a reporter from The News & Observer on Twitter, Romney addressed the NCAA directly, saying Congress would be stepping in to remedy the current situation:
“You know something is seriously awry,” Romney said. “The reality is Congress is going to act. We’re coming for you. We’re coming to help these athletes.”
The debate centers around the NCAA’s current amateurism rules, which prohibit NCAA student-athletes from earning money from their names, images or likenesses as student-athletes. The ‘name-image-likeness’ or NIL issue is currently set for a showdown over the next few years after California passed a bill allowing student-athletes to earn NIL money. The NCAA has said that California’s bill creates an unfair playing field between California schools and their competitors in other states, and even hinted at an NCAA ban on California schools.
On the other hand, more states have begun drafting their own similar legislation. California’s law doesn’t go into effect until 2023, giving a rough timeline for the NCAA to come to a decision. But other states may move the timetable up significantly – a Florida representative introduced a similar bill last month, but that bill would go into effect on July 1, 2020.
Representative Walker’s Student Equity Act would be a federal law that would apply to all 50 states. It would “bring above-board payments for name, image and likeness to college athletes at the national level,” according to the CBS report.