The latest proposed “bipartisan” piece of federal legislation to regulate name, image, and likeness deals for college athletes is being roundly applauded by the NCAA, the college coach-turned-senator who proposed it, other college football coaches, Power Five conferences, and a bunch of people who stand to benefit from it.
Sens. Tommy Tuberville and Joe Manchin introduced their baby, the Pass Act of 2023, on Tuesday, saying they hope it “strikes a balance between protecting the rights of student-athletes and maintaining the integrity of college sports.” There are several things wrong with not only this bill, but also with the people proposing it, as well as the asinine process that got us to this point.
The Pass Act would standardize NIL deals, give players added health care coverage after their college career, and outlaw the possibility of revenue sharing between athletes and programs in the future.
The senators even suggested a federal law to make players stay at a school for three years in order to be able to transfer without having to sit out a season. Other than the health care stuff — which these universities should be paying for already — the legislation takes power away from the athletes, puts it back into the palms of coaches, and does so by citing education, safety, and student-athlete protection from potential exploitation.
Uh-huh, yeah, I’m sure it’s a real sweet deal.
A lot of the reaction I’ve seen has praised Tuberville for his involvement and knowledge of college athletics. Of course, the former football coach who flamed out of that field and failed his way into a senate seat is going to offer a largely pro-coach bill. The guy couldn’t get another head coaching gig if he wanted to because he sucked at it, but also because he’s said a bunch of racist shit since winning office that would prevent him from being welcomed into the homes of the Black families who produce the vast majority of college football players.
One of the most outspoken critics of the current NIL landscape is Nick Saban, the head coach of Alabama, aka the same state in which Tuberville holds office. Getting this act passed would go a long way with his base — and the most powerful person in Alabama.
While it’s technically bipartisan because Manchin is a Democrat in party only, the fact that Tuberville is involved at all should raise red flags. He gleefully made millions coaching football, and had no problem with the former system.
In 2021, Tuberville said scholarships and stipends are more than enough payment.
“Players are already getting paid,” he said. “You’ve got to remember that. They’re getting their scholarship. Plus, most of them are getting $600, $700, $800 cash a month for what we call cost of attendance. And so nobody’s going hungry as a college athlete. Men and women.”
Just because these kids aren’t going hungry — which isn’t accurate — doesn’t mean they’re not being exploited, you dumb fuck, and that line of logic gives me zero optimism that this bill is beneficial to programs and players alike.
The act gives a bunch of concessions that should’ve already been made, or thought through. Providing coverage for sports-related health care costs for eight years after an athlete has completed eligibility is the least these schools could do for treating athletes as expendable while also profiting from their hard work and torn ligaments. There’s a sliding scale for schools that generate more revenue to also cover out-of-pocket medical bills for two to four years, and that’s commendable.
There’s also a proposed certification process for agents to complete in order to work with college kids, which is smart, and probably should’ve been done before letting the hyenas into the hen house. While I can see the logic in protecting players from agents, we’re just shifting who is doing the exploiting rather than eliminating it. Time and again, coaches make decisions out of their own self-interests, which, by definition, are not the players’ best interests.
Additionally, the Pass Act also would make any future revenue sharing between schools and athletes illegal; something that was proposed by a California representative this past year. That bill, which is currently paused, would’ve only applied to the most lucrative programs; the likes of Ohio State, Alabama, and others that print cash.
What really irked me was Tuberville and Manchin trying to put the transfer portal toothpaste back in the bottle. The portal, just as much if not more so than NIL deals, has made coaches’ lives hell, because athletes want playing time. Opportunity is as sought after as much as cash when you’re under a time constraint, and the whole Pass Act reeks of the NCAA and its members trying to claw back control. … Fuck that.
The NCAA, and the universities who belong to it, still refuse to pay players, and don’t want to get pressed on it, so they said, “Go ahead, make your own money. We don’t care.” That led to an ambiguous free market that they can’t control, and a bunch of coaches have been bitching about it ever since.
The main issue is state legislatures are in a “race to the bottom” — the senators’ words, not mine — to give their states an advantage in recruiting. An SEC athletic director went as far as to describe the process as “money laundering.” So, because a bunch of local politicians are screwing shit up, the solution is to bring in more politicians?
Jason Stahl, the executive director of the College Football Players Association, said, “The federal government should stay out of the NIL free market.”
How about applying that stance to federal and state governments?
The people on the state level who are spending time drafting loopholes for their alma maters to get an advantage on the blue bloods that have a monopoly on talent are petty on a level that I can endorse, but also clearly need to focus on more important issues.
Setting concrete guidelines for NIL deals would halt this current chicanery, but not if it puts power back into the hands of institutions that abuse it, negatively affects the current free market, or restricts player movement/empowerment.
Lastly, and I can’t say this loud or often enough: Tommy Tuberville should be nowhere near this issue. He’s a racist stooge who has multiple conflicts of interest and is fighting on behalf of an entitled group of coaches that he used to be a part of. Fuck that guy, and fuck the Pass Act.