A bipartisan group of senators is working on a college sports bill that would preempt state laws and create national regulations for player name, image and likeness compensation, establish an entity to oversee compliance with those rules and fund long-term medical care for athletes.

The College Athlete Protection and Compensation Act is just a discussion draft at this point, but it highlights that both Democrats and Republicans are involved in trying to address the issues that have disrupted college sports and the role of the NCAA.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (DN.J.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) were scheduled to speak to reporters later Thursday about their efforts.

College sports leaders have been asking Congress for help regulating how athletes can make money from their fame since before the NCAA lifted its ban on NIL compensation in 2021.

With the NCAA beset by losses in the courts, including a unanimous reprimand from the Supreme Court two years ago, the association has avoided implementing detailed rules to set a national standard for NIL. Meanwhile, a patchwork of state laws has created a confusing and uneven playing field for schools to try to compete.

Earlier this week, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey said again that a federal law is essential for college sports to advance.

“The reality is that only Congress can fully address the challenges facing college athletics,” he said at the SEC press days.

Greg Sankey on NIL and the issues that come with it


Joel Klatt and Greg Sankey discuss the impact of NIL on college athletes.

NCAA President Charlie Baker, who has spent much of his time meeting with lawmakers in Washington since taking office earlier this year, has said transparency and standardization with the NIL is needed to protect athletes and their families.

The legislation would provide them through the creation of the College Athletics Corp., a non-governmental oversight and compliance agency. The CAC would provide certification for agents seeking to represent college athletes and negotiate NIL contracts, and maintain a database of NIL agreements. It would also have subpoena power to investigate potential violations, something the NCAA’s violation staff does not have.

The new governing body would also establish a medical trust fund that athletes could access during and after their careers. The fund would come from contributions from the NCAA and schools and conferences that earn at least $50 million in revenue per year.

In the past four years, federal lawmakers have proposed more than a dozen bills targeting NIL and college athletics, including the Bill of Rights for College Athletes by Booker, a former Stanford football player, and Blumenthal. Moran introduced the Hobbyist Athlete Compensation and Protection Act in 2021.

None of those proposals went anywhere.

Associated Press report.


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