WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville has introduced a bill to regulate name, image and likeness, or NIL, on a national level.
For roughly the past year, Tuberville has been working on this bill with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. NIL allows athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness by doing things like endorsements or commercials. Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach, wants federal regulations in place for NIL so all athletes and schools play by the same set of rules, telling reporters this month, “We need some basic national rules because college sports are a nationwide business.”
Recently, during SEC Media Days in Nashville, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey addressed NIL and called on Congress to get involved.
“Congressional action is then the only way to provide a national uniform standard for name, image, and likeness activity and to draw the lines around the boundaries that do not become simply pay for play,” Sankey said.
Sankey said NIL isn’t a partisan issue and that state legislatures haven’t yet enforced their NIL laws, some of which would bar the NCAA and conferences from adopting and enforcing their own standards.
During the past few months, Tuberville has discussed NIL regulations with coaches and athletic directors from several schools, including University of Alabama and Auburn University. Earlier this summer, several SEC coaches, including Alabama’s Nick Saban, traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss their concerns as Tuberville and his colleagues drafted the bill.
“They have helped with this. Coaches from all over the country, athletic directors, presidents and groups from collectives and players. We have asked an enormous group to make recommendations. Coaches are begging for some relief. They are in it to compete against other schools. What we have is an unfair rule. What I am very concerned, number one is the education of the student-athlete. Number two is future of women’s sports and Olympic sports. If we continue down this road, all this money will go to several athletes on different teams, and the money to support these non-revenue sports will not be there. So, we will not be able to sustain what we have had in the past,” Tuberville said.
Discussion about how to best regulate NIL began shortly after some states started allowing student-athletes to earn money from their name, image or likeness. In 2019, California passed a state law that basically bars the NCAA from interfering in athletes earning NIL compensation. Other states, including Alabama, quickly followed and beginning July 1, 2021, college athletes in Alabama were able to get paid if they inked a deal with a business to tout their services or product.
During a sit-down interview with WVTM 13 anchor Ian Reitz in 2022, when Tuberville was first researching NIL regulation, he talked about his initial reluctance to get involved in this process.
“I did not want the federal government to get involved in college sports. But the cat’s out of the bag. It is a mess,” Tuberville said. “We don’t want to get involved in the money. I have always been for players making money. That’s not our intention. Our intention is to make it easier on players, parents, high school coaches, college coaches, everyone involved in the recruiting process.”
See the full text of the bill here.
This article contains information from The Associated Press.