NCAA name, image and likeness legislation proposal for Congress outlines notable guidelines

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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 collegeCan 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.

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