WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing titled “NCAA Student Athletes and NIL Rights” at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. The hearing will highlight the experiences of college athletes as Congress considers proposals to enable the athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”); improve athlete health care; and enhance scholarship protections and transfer rights; among other matters.
- Mr. Martin McNair, Father of Jordan McNair, Founder of The Jordan McNair Foundation
- Ms. Christina Chenault, Former Division I Athlete, University of California Los Angeles (“UCLA”)
- Ms. Kaira Brown, Student and Division I Athlete, Vanderbilt University
- Ms. Sari Cureton, Former Division I Athlete, Georgetown University
Thursday, June 17, 2021
10:00 A.M. EDT
This hearing will take place in the Russell Senate Office Building 253. Opening statements and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Due to current limited access to the Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view this hearing via the live stream. Social distancing is now lifted for vaccinated members of the press who wish to attend.
Chair Maria Cantwell
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
Opening Statement at U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Hearing titled “NCAA Student Athletes and NIL Rights"
Witnesses: Mr. Martin McNair, Father of Jordan McNair, Founder of The Jordan McNair Foundation
Ms. Christina Chenault, Former Division I Athlete, University of California Los Angeles (“UCLA”)
Ms. Kaira Brown, Student and Division I Athlete, Vanderbilt University
Ms. Sari Cureton, Former Division I Athlete, Georgetown University
June 17, 2021
Cantwell: Thank you all for being here this morning. We have a distinguished panel to talk about the continuation of a very important issue that is changes to name, image, and likeness for athletes across the United States of America. I welcome our panel to continue the discussion about how important this issue is to athletes across the United States. Last week we heard from legal experts from the NCAA, a coach, and other individuals who talked about this. But we also heard, as Mr. Gilmore said, there is so much more to be done. Congress cannot pass an NIL law that just ignores the rights of students. It also has to hear, I believe, about the experiences in healthcare and scholarship that make important rights issues so central to this debate. I'm submitting testimony from Washington State football player Dallas Hobbs, which outlines some of these issues, particularly as it related to healthcare during the COVID crisis, and also Sedona Prince, an Oregon basketball player, who was left with thousands of dollars in medical bills after an injury, and also pointed out the inequities in training facilities during the NCAA tournament.
But we're here today to welcome a very distinguished panel and I want to start by saying Mr. McNair, I'm so sorry about the loss of your son Jordan. My sympathies are with you and your family. I can't imagine the pain that you must feel from that loss, but I so appreciate you taking the time to advocate for a new law, and thanks to you, Maryland has one, so we certainly appreciate your commitment to this issue. We will also hear from a variety of witnesses who will tell us about the challenges they face in today's world of NCAA athletes. Kaira Brown, who has underscored the importance of NIL and leveling the playing field for female athletes, and how this can help build leadership skills for female athletes. And we're going to hear from Sari Cureton, who also is going to tell us about the athletes and the challenges they face. One of the things clear is that all of you want to provide mentorship, and yet the challenges of providing those mentorships when we have the current rules in place, make that very challenging.
I also want to welcome Ms. Chenault, thank you so much for your leadership. I think your testimony, more than others, really outlines the challenges of NIL, when someone such as yourself can be a voice, attract so much attention, and yet then be limited by how you could use that. We have many challenges to face in getting legislation passed. I think some of the issues that you'll bring up in the hearing today about schools that do have a scholarship certainty, and yet there seems to be still uncertainty to that plight. There still seems to be healthcare, but a lack of mental health in the system. There seems to be changes that we can make that I think would help us move forward on providing student athletes the kind of certainty not just on their rights, not just on their healthcare and scholarship, but improve the experience for women in sports today. So thank you all very much for being here and I look forward to hearing your testimony today.
Witness Panel 1
Ms. Christina ChenaultFormer Division I AthleteUniversity of California Los Angeles (“UCLA”)
Ms. Kaira BrownStudent and Division I AthleteVanderbilt University
Mr. Martin McNairFounderThe Jordan McNair Foundation
Ms. Sari CuretonFormer Division I AthleteGeorgetown University