New Federal Bill Being Pushed For Name, Image & Likeness Endorsements

Current Georgia freshman and Olympic hopeful Luca Urlando speaks to the media at the 2019 Nationals. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

New Federal Bill Being Pushed For Name, Image & Likeness Endorsements

A new federal bill is being introduced Thursday that would make it illegal for the NCAA or other college sports associations to place any restrictions on the type or size of endorsements deals that college athletes could sign in the future, according to a story from ESPN. The bill is being co-authored by Democratic Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut and State Representative Lori Trahan from Massachusetts.

“Big-time college athletics look no different than professional leagues, and it’s time for us to stop denying the right of college athletes to make money off their talents,” said Murphy, who said he sees the NCAA’s current rules as a civil rights issue. “If predominantly white coaches and NCAA executives can have unfettered endorsement deals, why shouldn’t predominantly black athletes be afforded the same opportunity?”

The new bill will strictly prohibit the NCAA or conferences from doing anything that would prevent athletes from organizing under collective representation to sell their licensing rights as a group. This is coming after EA Sports announced it was reviving its popular college football video game earlier this week.

Murphy and Trahan’s bill also states that any services that a school or conference provides to athletes to assist them in making the most of their NIL potential must be available to all athletes under their purview.

On April 29, 2020, the NCAA answered the years-long outcry for student-athletes to profit from their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), when they announced they would ‘modernize’ the organization’s NIL rules by the 2021-2022 academic year.

While colleges/universities are still not allowed to directly pay their student-athletes, once the rules come into effect, athletes can now make money from things like social media, businesses they have started, and personal appearances.

The state of Florida has already passed a law that allowed college athletes in the state to earn money off of name, image and likeness. Other states, including  California and Colorado, which passed similar state laws that will not go into effect until January 1, 2023.

The NCAA has argued that a variety of state laws, many of which have unique differences, would create a chaotic environment where schools were operating under different rules and prospective athletes might be choosing their schools based on which state gives them the best chance to cash in on endorsement deals. The NCAA insisted it would change its own rules but missed a self-imposed deadline of January 14, 2021 to vote on the proposed changes with no concrete make-up date.