• February 26, 2024

Mark Emmert to meet with lawmakers amid states’ push to pay college athletes

NCAA President Mark Emmert told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday that he would meet with Senators and Congressmen in Washington next week to discuss laws based on college athletes’ ability to use their names, images, and likenesses To earn money. The urgency of the meetings has increased as the number of states enacting laws effective July 1 or earlier has risen to six in the past few weeks.

On Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill that brought his state with it Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and New Mexico with College-Sports Name, Image, and Similarity (NIL) laws set for July 1st. Last summer, Nebraska passed NIL law that allows its colleges to select a date on or before July 1, 2023 for implementation.

There are now at least 13 states in total with such laws, and NCAA officials – along with representatives from various conferences and schools – have campaigned for a single federal measure. Three bills were presented at this congressional sessionand Emmert will meet with one of those writers, Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Wednesday, a Moran spokesman said Saturday.

The NCAA has also considered changes to its NIL rulesA move that would fundamentally change a system of amateurism that prevents athletes from entering into advertising contracts, monetizing their social media followers, or getting paid to sign autographs at a company that generates billions of dollars for their schools . However, the NCAA’s proposals would contravene some provisions of state law.

Emmert mentioned meeting with numerous other lawmakers in person or through Zoom, including Chairwoman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., And senior committee member, Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

But time is running out for a bill to reach Congress and the White House by July 1.

“It is obviously getting more difficult every day, because only the deadlines for the short-term completion of tasks in Congress are met,” said Emmert. “And of course, Congress is preoccupied with a whole host of other things – big problems – that far surpass the world of college sports in America.”

While the NCAA wants clarity about NIL, it also wants protection from future antitrust lawsuits related to its rules for the compensation of athletes. This met with opposition from Sens. Cory Booker, DN.J., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., And Chris Murphy, D-Conn., For pushing for laws that include assistance to athletes that go beyond NIL rights .

“There is a lot of effort and a lot of serious way to do this,” said Emmert. “Whether it’s finished on July 1st or after, I think it’s a phone call. But I believe that the realization that we need a federal law instead of 50 individual state laws is clear and we hope that sooner or later we can achieve this. “

In the meantime, Emmert reiterated his pledges the New York Times published on Saturday and reiterated his commitment that the NCAA would pass new, relaxed NIL rules in time for the start of the 2021/22 school year, regardless of what Congress did. The NCAA was due to vote on such rule changes in January, but brought the matter up after the Supreme Court decided to hear the association’s appeal against the Alston antitrust case. The then head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, also sent a letter to Emmert expressing serious concerns on the association’s approaches to NIL and athlete transfers.

“We – that is, the NCAA, the members, the boards of directors of the association, the schools, me – have promised our athletes that we would give them the opportunity to monetize their names, their image and their likeness by this school year” said Emmert. “… We designed the rules. All that is needed now from the NCAA’s side is a vote. And we have to do this vote. … There is no reason we cannot and I am confident that we will. “

The exact time for this vote remains to be seen. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said his conference and other members of the Power Five had been instructed by their lawyers to await the Supreme Court decision on the Alston case, “just to be very careful to ensure that we do nothing contradict what the court mandate is. “

A decision is expected to be made this month or June. The Alston case is not directly related to NIL, but judges could appeal to the NCAA’s power to rule in certain areas without bringing antitrust lawsuits.

But Bowlsby, who chairs an NCAA committee that has been working on changes to the NIL rules, agreed with Emmert that the NCAA must take action. “I think the worst we could have is that nothing is in effect on July 1st,” said Bowlsby.

He said that without federal law, “probably the next best position is to have both state laws in some areas and an (NCAA) rule that applies to the people who don’t have state law,” which the NIL- Rules would loosen up.

And Bowlsby said in that scenario the club and schools would likely just have to live with the differences between state laws and NCAA rules. If the NCAA were to initiate a legal challenge to state law, he said, “It will be difficult for the association to do so without schools in this state joining the lawsuit, and no institution will sue its own state legislature.” ”

Emmert said the NCAA could largely avoid this problem in the short term because the rule changes proposed by the NCAA “look very similar to the state laws passed in the five states that will kick off here on July 1.” But “other states, those downstream.” will trigger are very different. “

The changes proposed by the NCAA would give schools the ability to prevent athletes from entering into advertising contracts in certain circumstances. California law, which leaves schools far less leeway, now has an effective date of January 1, 2023. However, under a bill under consideration by state lawmakers, this would be postponed to the earlier of January 1, 2022 Date the NCAA rules for NIL change.


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