Cory Booker

Senators Creating NIL Standards Bill

Congress Seeks College Athletics Name, Image, and Likeness Breakthrough

A breakthrough in college athletics name, image, and likeness (NIL) regulations could be on the horizon as a bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposes a bill to reform college athletics and prioritize the rights of athletes. Senators Cory Booker (Democrat – New Jersey), Richard Blumenthal (Democrat – Connecticut), and Jerry Moran (Republican – Kansas) have collaborated on a “discussion draft” of the College Athletes Protection & Compensation Act, aiming to create a national framework for NIL and address various issues in college sports.

The proposed legislation seeks to establish the College Athletics Corporation (CAC), a centralized entity responsible for setting and enforcing rules to safeguard athletes entering into endorsement contracts. It allows athletes to have representatives who can assist them with financial matters, marketing, and brand management. Furthermore, the bill prohibits institutions from penalizing athletes for receiving essential support, such as food, rent, medical expenses, insurance, tuition, fees, books, and transportation from third parties.

In addition to NIL regulations, the act aims to provide a medical trust fund to cover out-of-pocket costs for injured athletes. This fund will support college athletes diagnosed with long-term conditions resulting from their participation in sports, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and other traumatic injuries.

To prioritize academics, the bill ensures that athletes continue to receive financial aid covering tuition, books, and fees until their graduation, even if they suffer a career-ending injury and are removed from a team.

Health, wellness, and safety standards will be implemented to protect college athletes from serious injuries, mistreatment, abuse, and death. These standards cover a range of areas, including cardiac health, concussions, performance-enhancing substances, mental health, overuse injuries, heat-related illnesses, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and interpersonal violence. The act also aims to protect medical personnel by preventing non-medical personnel, such as coaches, from influencing decisions related to athletes’ health and safety.

The bill demands transparency from schools, requiring them to report the revenues and expenditures of each athletics program, the average hours college athletes spend on athletic events, and the academic outcomes and majors of college athletes.

To equip athletes with essential financial knowledge, the legislation mandates financial literacy and lifestyle development courses, covering topics like personal budgeting, debt, credit, interest rates, contracts, and tax liability related to their endorsements and income.

Furthermore, the act seeks to ensure gender parity in tournaments, requiring athletic associations to provide both men and women college athletes with equal access to facilities and services during tournaments.

Senators Blumenthal and Moran emphasize that college athletes deserve national NIL standards, medical trust funds, scholarship safeguards, protection against mistreatment and abuse, and other basic rights. They assert that college athletics have become a billion-dollar industry, and it’s time to modernize athlete compensation rules while preserving the integrity of college sports.

The proposal has received support from various college leaders, including NCAA President Charlie Baker and Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey. Sankey has long advocated for congressional action to establish a uniform national standard for NIL, citing the inadequacies of state laws and the need for consistency.

With this bipartisan effort, Congress aims to bring about significant reforms that will make college athletics fairer, safer, and more just, empowering young athletes to succeed both in sports and beyond.