As the issue of name, image and likeness (NIL) continues to be a hot topic of debate in collegiate athletics, the U.S. Senate could soon take up legislation to offer a federal solution.
The NCAA-instituted policy, which allows student-athletes to profit from their personal brand, has been subjected to immense scrutiny due to its perceived lack of uniformed regulation.
On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) announced his intentions of drafting bipartisan legislation with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) to address the issue.
Alabama’s junior senator and Manchin have held multiple discussions with University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban regarding his concerns on NIL.
Saban, who has expressed his frustrations with the rule change due to rival coaches reportedly using NIL against the spirit of the policy to entice prospective recruits to join their programs, holds strong ties with both senators.
The three-way effort to spearhead federal NIL legislation presents the appearance of a dynamic partnership due to the connections the three men hold with one another.
During his 10-year stint as Auburn University’s head football coach, Tuberville faced Saban on opposing sidelines as Southeastern Conference (SEC) West Division rivals. The two have maintained routine contact with one another throughout the years.
The legendary Crimson Tide head coach is lifelong friends with Manchin, who he grew up with as childhood friends in West Virginia.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Tuberville noted that he had discussed the issue with numerous former coaching colleagues. The current structure of NIL, Tuberville indicated, lacked proper guidance and oversight.
“I’ve talked to all my [coaching] buddies. They’ve never seen anything like it,” Tuberville told the outlet. “When you don’t have guidelines and direction, no matter what you are doing, you are lost. They are all lost right now.”
According to Tuberville’s Senate office, the senators will seek input on the legislation from a variety of stakeholders, including university athletic directors, administrators, associations, and student-athlete groups. The open input period for the legislation will close on August 31.
In a letter to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, the senators outlined their concerns and detailed what they seek to address in a federal solution.
“[A] lack of clear, enforceable rules is creating an environment that potentially allows for the exploitation of student-athletes by unregulated entities, prioritizes short-term financial gain over careful investment in one’s career and the lifelong value of education, and diminishes the role of coaches, mentors and athletic staff while empowering wealthy boosters,” wrote Tuberville and Manchin.