Senate committee discusses college athlete compensation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – A critical issue facing college sports was the focus of a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

The Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation heard testimony from a panel addressing federal legislative proposals to enable college athletes to get compensation for their name, image and likeness.

On July 1st, five states will see “NIL” (name, image, likeness) statutes take effect, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico. This means that college athletes will be able to sign endorsement deals without being punished by their schools, conferences or the NCAA. But the NCAA is pushing lawmakers to pass a federal bill.

Among those testifying on Capitol Hill is Senator Cory Booker, who is expressing the need for immediate action, and head men’s basketball coach for Gonzaga University, Mark Few, telling lawmakers that the future of college sports is in jeopardy.

Few said, “We are at a critical juncture in college athletics. It really isn’t an exaggeration to say the future of college sports is in jeopardy. And so, I want to talk about kind NIL rights. We should have addressed these NIL rights a long time ago. And I’m embarrassed that we’re here having to deal with it right now. We should have handled this, but here it is. And these changes are long, long overdue. All athletes deserve to use their own name, image and likeness in commercial endorsements and on social media. And I’m very much in favor of them profiting as much as they possibly can.”

NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert said, “The 1,200 colleges and universities of the NCAA are right now in the process of passing historic rules to allow new opportunities for student-athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness. These opportunities will allow student-athletes to take advantage of the evolving landscape in multiple ways, and our schools intend to pass those rules as quickly as possible, preferably before the end of the month.”

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