New House Bill Could Put Power Back In The Hands Of The NCAA

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The NCAA is, for all intents and purposes, fairly impotent these days.

The college sports governing body has very little power to rule and the supreme court’s ruling regarding compensation of college athletes made that fairly clearly.

But now it appears the NCAA fighting back. Or, at least, it’s trying.

As schools and administrators turn to the NCAA for guidelines on what they can and cannot do, the NCAA is now turning back to the government.

Steve Berkowitz of USA Today reports that the “U.S. House of Representatives this week will see a discussion draft’ of a college-sports bill that would cover athletes’ name-image-and-likeness (NIL) activities and provide schools legal protection being sought by the NCAA.

The bill, which was brought up by Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas), would continue to allow NIL deals. But it would disallow colelge athletes from being deemed employees and offer the NCAA new legal protections.

Pfluger told Berkowitz that the bill will include the following:

  • Safeguards “from retaliation by an institution of higher education for student-athletes who have signed a NIL deal.”
  • The creation of a “new regulatory body tasked with establishing and enforcing rules pertaining to collectives, boosters, and student-athlete endorsement contracts. Student-athletes who enter into a contract will be required to report their agreement to this new body and their university within a specified period.” Collectives are booster- and business-driven groups that have formed to pool resources and provide NIL opportunities for athletes at schools since the NCAA has made rule changes substantially enhancing athletes’ ability to make money not only from endorsements, but also from personal appearances, autograph signings and other activities.
  • A provision “clarifying that student-athletes are not eligible for employee status.”
  • Language “providing liability protection to protect institutions from frivolous litigation.”

Until or unless the bill passes, those provisions mean very little. But college sports fans weren’t a huge fan of the proposal.

NIL looks to be here to stay. In what form or fashion, however, we’ll have to wait and see.