The biggest move yet to regulate and streamline Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) opportunities for college athletes was announced today with U.S. Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn ) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) teaming up on new legislation.
Drawing from their experiences in college football, Tuberville as a coach and Manchin as a player, the senators have worked extensively to craft the bill with input from coaches, players and universities over the past year.
The Protecting Athletes, Schools, and Sports (PASS) Act sets out nationwide rules for NIL activities in college sports.
“Student-athletes should be able to take advantage of NIL promotional activities without impacting their ability to play collegiate sports,” Tuberville said. “But we need to ensure the integrity of our higher education system, remain focused on education, and keep the playing field level.”
- NO PAY FOR PLAY: The bill would ensure an equal playing field by prohibiting NIL from being used as an inducement. The bill would also require boosters and collectives to be affiliated with a school.
- HEALTH & SAFETY: The bill would provide coverage for sports-related injuries for uninsured student-athletes for 8 years following graduation from a 4-year institution. Larger schools would be required to pay for such expenses for a period even after the student leaves the school.
- PROTECTING STUDENT-ATHLETES OFF THE FIELD: The bill would establish additional protections for student-athletes beyond the playing field and beyond the classroom. It would require that student-athletes be educated on their legal and regulatory rights and basic financial literacy. It would preserve the athlete’s initial scholarship commitment for education, regardless of whether the athlete obtained a NIL deal or incurred any injury. In addition, the bill would provide travel for the student-athlete’s immediate family to the athlete’s sporting events.
- OVERSIGHT & TRANSPARENCY: The PASS Act would strengthen oversight and enforcement of NIL activities. Non-student parties involved in NIL activities will be required to register and make their contracts public. It would empower the NCAA to audit compliance and refer potential bad actors to the FTC. It would also establish a uniform, standard contract for all NIL deals.
- CLARIFYING NIL ACTIVITY: It would establish national standards for all NIL activity. The bill would ban endorsement contracts for certain industries – such as drug paraphernalia, dangerous weapons, or gambling – for both student-athletes and schools. It would also ensure that nothing in the bill would impact the employment status of a student-athlete.
- TRANSFERS: The bill will provide stability for teams by moderating the use of the transfer portal. Student-athletes may not enter the portal during their first three years of eligibility without penalty, with some exceptions.
The announcement came with support from the Southeastern Conference, the University of Alabama and Auburn University.
“Senators Tuberville and Manchin have a keen understanding of the need for national standards to preserve the integrity of fair competition at all levels of intercollegiate athletics,” a statement from the SEC said.
“The Southeastern Conference appreciates the efforts of Senator Tommy Tuberville and Senator Joe Manchin in their work to craft a bill that addresses the opportunity for college athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness, and other issues important to the future of college sports.”
Dr. Stuart Bell, president of the University of Alabama, said, “We are appreciative to the Senators for their leadership in developing national standards aimed at protecting student-athletes and preserving the integrity of, and opportunities provided by, intercollegiate athletics. We are grateful for their collaboration and remain optimistic about the efforts to produce effective national legislation.”
A delegation of SEC coaches and officials traveled to Washington last month to advocate for common-sense NIL regulation, which achieved its latest form in the PASS Act.
“Auburn University appreciates the efforts undertaken by Senators Tommy Tuberville and Joe Manchin to create a national framework for NIL that establishes clear rules and addresses the patchwork of conflicting state laws governing collegiate athletics,” said Auburn President Christopher Roberts. “We look forward to continuing to work with these offices, other members of the House and Senate, and the Southeastern Conference as this process continues.”
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270