WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today sent a letter to Dr. Mark Emmert, President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), seeking information on the status of the association’s effort to establish and enforce a permanent name, image, and likeness (NIL) policy that provides oversight for college athletes’ rights to monetize and profit from their personal brand.
“While I support allowing student-athletes to profit from their NIL rights, I am concerned that the current lack of structured rules and accountability measures could lead to pay-for-play or other improper inducements,” Wicker wrote. “As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, preserving amateurism and avoiding pay-for-play in college sports are top priorities to ensure fair play and fair competition.”
This letter follows the Supreme Court’s decision in NCAA v. Alston on June 23, 2021, that led to the NCAA adopting an interim NIL policy which allows college athletes who attend a school in a state without an NIL law to engage in endorsement activities without violating NCAA rules related to NIL. While the change allowed college student-athletes to profit from their NIL for the first time, it did not include guardrails to protect the amateurism model.
Read the letter here or below.
Dear Dr. Emmert:
Questions and concerns continue to be raised regarding the NCAA’s oversight of student-athletes’ ability to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL). On June 23, 2021, following the Supreme Court’s decision in NCAA v. Alston, the NCAA released a memo to member institutions stating “permanent NIL rule changes by July 1 are unlikely due to the legal environment.” The memo suggested that interim NIL policies be adopted until federal legislation or permanent NCAA rules could be approved. The Division I Council voted on June 28, 2021, recommending that the Board of Directors suspend amateurism rules related to NIL and adopt an NIL interim policy. On June 30, 2021, the NCAA Board of Governors voted to adopt the interim NIL policy allowing student-athletes to monetize their NIL.
Over the ensuing nine months, the NIL landscape has continued to evolve. Universities have established their own guidelines, states have passed laws, and the NCAA has maintained a largely hands-off approach. While I support allowing student-athletes to profit from their NIL rights, I am concerned that the current lack of structured rules and accountability measures could lead to pay-for-play or other improper inducements. These concerns appear to be validated by recent reports of NIL deals being used as inducements for college transfer and high school athlete recruitment. As Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, preserving amateurism and avoiding pay-for-play in college sports are top priorities to ensure fair play and fair competition. Therefore, I ask that you provide responses to the following questions:
- How many student-athletes under the NCAA’s purview are currently participating in name, image, and likeness deals? What is the total monetary value of all student athletes’ NIL deals?
- How many student-athletes under the NCAA’s purview have transferred schools since July 1, 2021? Please provide a 5-year historical comparison to provide context to this number.
- What progress, if any, has the NCAA made toward the adoption of permanent NIL rules?
- What steps has the NCAA taken, if any, to educate student-athletes on the impacts NIL could have on financial aid status or tax status in various municipal, state, and/or federal governments?
- What steps has the NCAA taken to educate its member institutions’ athletic departments on NIL guidance?
- How does the NCAA regulate NIL non-compliance among member institutions?
- What dispute resolution procedures are available to member institutions in the case of NIL non-compliance?
- What sanctions, if any, are appropriate for NIL non-compliance?
Please provide your written responses as soon as possible, but not later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 11, 2022. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.