Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Stakeholders across the college sports community agree, the pillars of the FAIR College Sports Act will help preserve the rights of student athletes, protect them from bad actors, and ensure they can benefit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). We’ve heard from student athletes themselves, as well as universities, conferences, and others, all of whom are emphasizing the need for clearer NIL guidelines, protection of amateur status, and increased transparency requirements for agents, boosters, and collectives.

Lead Bill Sponsor and Chair of the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce Rep. Gus Bilirakis:

“The goal of this bill is to establish a clear set of rules, so that young people are protected, opportunities for them promoted, and amateur sports of all kinds are preserved, and does so without expanding government.”

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Here is what advocates are saying:

President Charlie Baker, National Collegiate Athletic Association

“I am grateful to Chairman Bilirakis for his support of college sports and for introducing draft legislation designed to protect this enterprise we all love. The Association applauds his efforts to support student-athletes and create a level-playing field by preempting state NIL laws and proposing important protections for college athletes. Importantly, this proposal addresses the critical issues of student-athlete employment and ongoing, unsustainable litigation by our conferences and schools.”

Meredith Page, Student Athlete, Radford University Volleyball

“A cohesive set of rules ensures that every student-athlete, regardless of their program or location, can benefit from their NIL without unnecessary complications. Guardrails help maintain the integrity of collegiate sports while offering student-athletes the chance to capitalize on their personal brand. It’s not just about the present, but also about creating a sustainable and fair system for future generations of student-athletes.”

Keke Tholl, Student Athlete, University of Michigan Softball

“My biggest concern, though, is what employment status would mean for supporting all sports. If student-athletes are made into employees, budget impacts would mean that many universities likely cannot, and will not, support all sports. We then face yet another Title IX issue with the major revenue generators being male student-athletes, leaving women’s sports to again face an uncertain reality.”

The Four Historically Black Athletic Conferences (4HBAC)

“To protect all that we have accomplished on our HBCU campuses, we ask for your support in passing laws that, when necessary, pre-empt state law, to create clear and fair playing fields for HBCU student-athletes. Such legislation will allow for consistent and nimble national governance with consumer protections. Most importantly, we seek special status for student-athletes to ensure they are not designated as employees of their institutions.”

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (ULC)

“Athletes in states without NIL laws have been able to engage in a wide variety of NIL activities that are prohibited under the laws of other states. This patchwork of state laws has thus led to disparate NIL benefits and opportunities for college athletes dictated almost entirely by the state law, if any, that governs their institution. These differences have become even more magnified as varying NIL laws have impacted the recruiting cycle and influenced the enrollment decisions of prospective college athletes and the transfer decisions of current college athletes.” 

[…] 

“Without uniform regulation of NIL, it appears increasingly likely that the NCAA and other athletic organizations will be unable to prevent illegitimate NIL activity that threatens to upend the collegiate model of sports.”

Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)

“Codifying federal law over state law in the NIL space is essential to establish uniformity, clarity, fairness, and national oversight. It would promote equal opportunities for college athletes, avoid compliance burdens, and ensure a consistent framework for navigating the complexities of NIL. By taking a comprehensive and unified approach, Congress can provide a stable and predictable environment for student-athletes to exercise their NIL rights while preserving the integrity and competitiveness of college sports.” 

[…]

“We implore you to take decisive action in support of federal legislation addressing NIL and student-athlete employment-status in college sports. By enhancing safeguards, affirming the unique university-student-athlete relationship, providing safe harbor for the NCAA, and establishing federal preemption in certain areas, we can bring stability, fairness, and consistency to the evolving NIL landscape.”

Commissioner Jeff Jackson, The Missouri Valley Conference

“The FAIR Act represents a critical bipartisan effort that goes a long way and is an important step forward in bringing clarity to the NIL process and protections for our student athletes. It recognizes the historic relationship between an academic institution and a student-athlete and protects against recent attempts to reclassify these students as employees, a move that would negatively impact the ability of most universities to offer the scholarship-level competition that has become so much a fabric of their campuses.”

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