The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor & Pensions convened today for a hearing on college athlete compensation. Among the many babbling voices in the room, player advocacy was scarce.
Most of the hearing focused on what a name image and likeness (NIL) proposal would look like in college sports, and what entity should take it on. Should it be the NCAA? The Federal Government? Some other outside group?
Anything to prove that these athletes are workers for their school should be the bare minimum.
Some of the senators in today’s hearing, however, don’t exactly agree.
Republicans and Democrats went back and forth asking questions to a college AD, coach, chancellor and Ramogi Huma, Executive Director of the National College Players Association.
Here’s a roundup of high- and low-lights:
Richard Burr (R-NC)
What a way to start a statement. The former D1 football player at Wake Forest called the potential expansion of NIL legislation, a “huge” and potentially, “irreversible mistake” and argued it could eliminate women’s sports. A claim that’s likely false.
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
The GOP stalwart wasted no time in his opening statement sounding an awful lot like a socialist, and that was certainly the consensus on social media and in coverage (even across the pond!). “I don’t see a good ending to allowing a few student-athletes to be paid by commercial interests, while most of their teammates are not,” said Alexander. “If young athletes want to be part of a team, enjoy the undergraduate experience, learn from coaches who are among the best teachers, and be paid a full scholarship that helps them earn a degree worth $1million during their lifetime, their earning should benefit all student-athletes at that institution.”
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Murphy, a frequent critic of the NCAA, put out a statement ahead of the hearing today promising to ask probing questions and shed light on the racial and socioeconomic injustices plaguing the NCAA. He did just that.
He opened his remarks mentioning how the NCAA has become a $15 billion dollar industry with multimillion dollar coaching salaries and million dollar TV contracts all while the players get $0. He argued for a free market approach to NIL legislation. If college coaches can capitalize on their NIL, why can’t athletes?
Mitt Romney (R-UT)
Senator Romney seems to be on board for some kind of NIL legislation, but he wants to cap the earning potential at $50K. Because … teenagers and 20 somethings don’t already monetize their skills here in the U.S.A. Right?
Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
The New Hampshire senator brought a new conversation into the chamber (via zoom) about concussions in college sports. She hinted at plans to introduce some kind of bipartisan proposal about concussions this week.
Rand Paul (R-KY)
The libertarian approach to NIL is, unsurprisingly, to not get the federal government involved in anything. So who should oversee a NIL proposal? The NCAA? The next person on the list thinks that’s a terrible idea.
Ramogi Huma, Executive Director of the National College Players Association
Huma spoke to Deadspin in June. As one of today’s witnesses, he expressed then what he echoed today — that the current economic model of collegiate sports should be tossed and replaced with something new. At the end of the hearing, the former UCLA football player said the NCAA should not be allowed to organize NIL legislation because they have proven themselves to be incompetent and wholeheartedly against the payment of college athletes.
Rebecca Blank, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Blank was the only chancellor to take questions. She was pressed by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) about the Big 10’s decision to postpone fall sports, a decision she felt was just. But with news of a new, potential Big 10 season she said that the college presidents must come to a “consensus” before announcing play.
According to Blank, the Big 10 will either be all-in or all-out.