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Durbin Meets with NCAA President to Discuss Name, Image, Likeness Policy in Collegiate Sports

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today met with NCAA President Charlie Baker to discuss proposals to modernize Division I (D-I) athletics in the age of name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights for college athletes.  These proposals, including provisions to allow schools to enter into NIL contracts directly with college athletes and the ability to offer direct financial compensation, would require additional accountability as any school entering a contract must abide by Title IX.

“College sports is a big business that generates even bigger profits, yet little of this money makes its way to the athletes who made these record-breaking profits possible.  Further, despite being used in a plethora of promotional campaigns by universities, college athletes are prohibited from being compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness,” said Durbin.  “As I discussed with NCAA President Charlie Baker today, we must strike a delicate balance between ensuring players are fairly compensated and regulating collectives to prevent them from taking advantage of college athletes.”

A photo of the meeting is available here.

Last October, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled “Name, Image, and Likeness, and the Future of College Sports.”  The hearing, which included testimony from Baker, centered on different NIL legislative proposals, seeking a way to establish what is truly in the best interests of college athletes.

In recent years, there has been a significant push by NCAA, athletic conferences, and members of Congress to set a federal standard for the use of college athletes’ NIL rights.

Traditionally, college athletes were not permitted to profit from their NIL without running afoul of NCAA rules.  However, the Supreme Court’s June 2021 unanimous decision in NCAA v. Alston found that the NCAA violated federal antitrust law when it attempted to limit education-related payments to college athletes.  Following the ruling and in the face of pending state laws allowing college athletes to profit from their NIL, the NCAA abandoned its prior approach to NIL and instead adopted a policy largely deferring to state NIL laws.  This has led to a patchwork of NIL rules across the nation.