Wicker Seeks Information for Student-Athlete Name, Image, Likeness Debate

May 7, 2020

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today sent letters to 50 collegiate associations, conferences, junior colleges, and universities requesting information to gain insight into the issue of compensating student-athletes for the use of their names, images, or likenesses.

Included in Chairman Wicker’s letter are a series of 20 detailed questions that serve as the basis for the committee’s initial policy review. Wicker’s efforts follow up on a previous hearing on the topic in front of the Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee and in response to the report issued April 29, 2020, by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) working group that suggested changes to current rules. 

Excerpt from letter:

College athletics play an important role in the life of our nation. They offer unique benefits not just to fans and observers, but to the student-athletes who are given an opportunity to pursue greatness both in sports and in the classroom. Currently there is a debate underway over whether student-athletes should receive compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness in commercial products, and if such compensation can be given without altering the amateur character of college athletics.

Many states have begun taking legislative steps to address this issue. More than 30 states have now adopted, introduced, or signaled plans to introduce some form of legislation allowing student-athletes to profit from the commercial use of their name, image, or likeness. The high number of varied state actions has led some to argue that there is a need for one nationwide standard.

Pursuant to Rule XXV of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has legislative and oversight jurisdiction over matters related to interstate commerce generally and sports in particular. As such, the committee seeks to gain a better understanding of the current system for compensating student-athletes and to hear a range of perspectives on this complex issue.

Click here to read the full letter and here to view the list of recipients. Their responses are requested by June 5, 2020.