A bipartisan trio of U.S. senators introduced legislation Thursday morning aimed at creating a unified national law for how college athletes can make money and urging many schools to offer more health services to athletes.
The bill is one of at least three possible bills tabled on Capitol Hill this summer as the NCAA and college sports executives continue to urge Congress to help regulate how athletes can make money from their names, likenesses and likenesses . This proposal — co-authored by Sens. Cory Booker, Jerry Moran, and Richard Blumenthal — goes beyond NIL regulation by proposing that NCAA schools should be required to be more transparent about their own finances and provide funding for post-NIL medical expenses Provide career and long-term guaranteed scholarships for athletes.
“It would make college sports fairer, safer and more equitable, and give more young people the opportunity to succeed in sports and beyond,” Booker said in a statement.
Federal lawmakers have proposed more than a dozen college sports reform bills over the past three years, but so far none have made it past the first step of the legislative process. Executives from the NCAA, its most influential conferences and many of its schools traveled to Washington this summer to try to get Congress to act. They say the current lack of a statewide standard has led to a “race to the bottom” among state legislators passing legislation aimed at giving teams in their state a competitive recruiting advantage.
“Congress’s actions are the only way to establish a nationally consistent standard for name, likeness and likeness activity and to set the boundaries that aren’t just used for gaming,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said earlier this week.
Executives like Sankey say they want legislation that creates uniform NIL rules, provides a narrow antitrust exception to protect schools from certain types of litigation, and says college athletes should not be considered employees of their schools.
This latest draft provides no antitrust exemption, nor does it address the employee status of athletes, an issue currently being debated in several legal bodies. It falls short of some of the more aggressive economic reforms that NCAA leaders have resisted and Democrats pushed through in previous NCAA-related legislation. The bill also doesn’t address revenue sharing with athletes, a point Booker and Blumenthal made in an earlier 2020 bill.
This time, the senators are proposing the creation of a non-government-operated corporation with the power to resolve NIL disputes, certify agents, and enforce other reforms, including:
health care: Set up a medical trust fund for sports-related injuries. Sports departments that generate at least $20 million annually would have to pay athletes’ medical expenses out of pocket for two years after they stop playing. Sports departments that make at least $50 million annually would have to do the same for four years and offer sports-related health insurance while athletes play.
Draft Eligibility: All collegiate athletes may be drafted for professional leagues without losing their NCAA eligibility if they choose to go back to school within seven days of the draft closing.
Scholarship Guarantees: Universities would have to guarantee athletes that they would keep their scholarships until they completed their undergraduate studies, as long as they maintained good academic status and did not transfer to another school.
Education: Schools could not try to discourage athletes from choosing certain academic majors. They would also need to teach athletes at least 15 hours a year of financial and life skills that could count toward college credit.
Transparency: Schools would have to report annually on their athletics income and expenses, how much money their coaches make, how much time athletes have devoted to their sports, their academic results, and the average value and total number of endorsements signed by athletes . The bill would ensure that certain contract details for endorsement deals are not released or become part of the public record.
The new company, called College Athletic Corporation, would work with existing federations, such as the NCAA, to oversee specific areas of college athletics. This group would be given subpoena powers to monitor whether all parties are complying with the framework set out in the proposed law.