Another day, another college athletes’ compensation bill drops.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who chairs the chamber’s Commerce Committee, announced Thursday that he has introduced a bill regarding college athletes’ name, image and likeness activities.
The measure would force certain changes that the NCAA already seems ready to make, then largely give the association protection from antitrust challenges to those changes.
Wicker’s standing with a committee through which any such legislation likely would have to travel gives this bill considerable weight, but with a couple of critical caveats.
The bill is almost certain not to receive a mark-up during the final weeks of this session of Congress, which will be dominated by year-end spending bills and COVID-19 relief measures. Then, if Georgia’s Senate run-off elections give Democrats control of the chamber, Wicker would be replaced as committee chair. And Senate Democrats, including Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, have said they are interested in a much broader set of changes on behalf of athletes than Wicker’s bill offers.
Wow, Georgia. Think of the power we hold right now.
What Wicker, who showed a keen grasp of the issues at a hearing this summer, is offering is essentially what the NCAA has been asking for.
It also includes a provision that says the NCAA, a conference or a school could prohibit athletes from having NIL deals before they enroll at a school — and the bill defines the word “enroll” as meaning “to receive passing grades … for completing courses … comprising not less than 12 percent of the credits required for graduation” from the school. That’s roughly one semester’s worth of classes.
In addition, the bill would give the NCAA, conferences and schools protection from antitrust challenges to any changes they decide to make to their NIL rules before the measure goes into effect, as long as those changes don’t end up “unduly” restricting athletes’ NIL activities. The bill calls for the creation of an independent entity that would handle a variety of oversight activities, including handling grievances from athletes concerning restrictions on their NIL activities.
In short, the bill essentially would insulate the NCAA from lawsuits that might otherwise rise from the NIL rules changes the association appears headed toward adopting in January.
Georgia or no Georgia, I doubt Biden would sign off on something that lopsided. We’ll see, though.