President Mark Emmert Says NCAA Would Prefer Federal NIL Legislation

At a Senate hearing this week, NCAA President Mark Emmert said he is in favor of federal name, image and likeness legislation to limit disparate policies across states. I May, commissioners from the Power Five conferences sent a letter to the U.S. Congress asking that it enact federal, national NIL legislation before the NCAA’s own rules were passed.

But ow, both the NCAA and the Power Five are asking for an antitrust exemption to protect the association and individual schools from lawsuits brought on my rule changes.

Notably, Arizona State swimmer Grant House is currently a plaintiff in a class-action antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA seeking injunction and damages for alleged antitrust violations regarding profits from the use of student-athletes’ names, images and likenesses.

“I don’t believe the NCAA should be the entity that’s in the middle of this arrangement,” Emmert said, according to the New York Times. “I think that’s inappropriate.”

Student-athlete representatives said federal antitrust exemption could perpetuate the issues that already exist, including “underpaid labor,” according to The Times.

“NCAA sports use amateurism as cover to systematically strip generational wealth from predominantly Black athletes from lower income households to pay for lavish salaries of predominantly white coaches, athletic directors, commissioners and N.C.A.A. administrators,” Ramogi Huma, the executive director of the National College Players Association, said.

The Senate committee centering its work around NCAA name, image and likeness rules is also saying that the association has “failed” to keep student-athletes safe. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) said he would like to assemble a  group to address NIL issues by Sept. 15, “but that it’s unlikely a bill will be passed before Congress’s term ends.”

The NCAA is expected to finalize a plan by November and vote on it in January.

Elsewhere around the association, the Division II Management Council has recommended that the Division II Presidents Council sponsor several legislative proposals for the 2021 NCAA Convention, most of which permit student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness. The name, image and likeness recommendations fall into two categories: activities related to student-athlete businesses and the promotion/endorsement of third-party products and services.

Click here view the full list of proposals.

In Division III, an NIL Working Group recommended two legislative concepts to be considered by the Management and Presidents Councils at their upcoming summer meetings.

The first concept would allow student-athletes to use their status as athletes to promote their own work product or service. Work product and service examples would include promotion of private lessons, camps and clinics; monetizing social media platforms; pay for autographs; promotion of creative and/or academic endeavors; promotion of their own business; and general promotion of other work product or service.

Schools would be permitted to support name, image and likeness opportunities for student-athletes only in the same manner they support such opportunities for their students generally.

The second concept would allow student-athletes to use their status as athletes to endorse third-party products or services, provided there is no institutional involvement in procuring promotional opportunities for student-athletes (except to the extent the school is involved with assisting students generally). Name, image and likeness opportunities would not be part of the recruiting process, and compensation would not be a substitute for pay for play.

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About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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