Senators Tommy Tuberville, Joe Manchin aiming to release NIL bill in spring 2023

On3 imageby:Pete Nakos12/19/22


U.S. Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) announced back in August their intentions to draft NIL legislation.

For months, conference commissioners had been pleading with Capitol Hill to step in. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and the Pac-12’s George Kliavkoff even traveled to Washington, D.C., in May to meet with lawmakers.

On Monday, Tuberville, the former college football coach, told Sportico he plans to release a draft of the bipartisan bill aimed to regulate name, image and likeness in spring 2023. Tuberville said does not foresee federal legislation being enacted in the next Congress that would include an antitrust exemption for the NCAA.

Earning antitrust exemption status has long been a goal for college athletic’s governing body. With multiple class-action lawsuits have been brought up against the NCAA, none tested the organization more than the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in NCAA v. Alston in 2021. The ruling stated the NCAA was violating antitrust law by placing limits on the education-related benefits schools can provide to athletes.

“We’ve got to take care of all these recruiting possibilities first, and once we get through this we would like to stay out of it,” Tuberville told Sportico’s Daniel Libit. “If you get (Congress) involved, it is not a rule, it is a law. We don’t want to jump in this with all four feet and say this is how it is going to be with every situation.”

The last few months have marked a busy time for NIL legislation to be introduced on Capitol Hill. Tuberville met with Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) last week for an NCAA-focused discussion. Booker and Blumenthal announced in August plans to reintroduce the Athlete Bill of Rights, which includes health, wellness and safety standards.

The initial bill, introduced in December 2020, called for football and basketball players to share athletic department revenue. That was left out in the August version.

“Cory comes from a different angle,” Tuberville said. “He saw the progress we are making and wanted to make sure as we were talking [with stakeholders], we didn’t overlook health care until after the fact.”

In terms of Tuberville and Manchin’s bill targeting NIL, the two senators previously asked for feedback from numerous stakeholders, including athletic directors and other administrators, as well as university associations and athlete groups. They then requested 30 NIL collectives to provide feedback in September.

Why does NIL need regulating?

With the inception of NIL in July 2021, decades of NCAA oversight on student-athletes turning a profit came to a halt. The massive change to the college athletics landscape has not come without its share of headaches and headlines. The norm has been flipped upside down for coaches, fans and administrators.

More importantly, daily conversations with prospects and student-athletes have altered. If there is a lesson more then a year into the new era, it’s become clear NIL will continue to have an impact on the outcome of sporting contests and the revenue institutions pull in.

For years, the NCAA banned boosters from paying student-athletes to attend a certain institution or directly for their performances. Those rules are still in place, yet NIL allowed those individuals an opportunity to move cash to athletes thanks to collectives. 

There are now more than 200 collectives across the Division I landscape. Typically founded by prominent alumni and influential supporters, school-specific collectives pool funds from a wide swath of donors to help create NIL opportunities for student-athletes through an array of activities.

Independent of a university, it can serve a variety of purposes. Most often, they pool funds from boosters and businesses, help facilitate NIL deals for athletes and also create their own ways for athletes to monetize their brands. They’ve also been used to offer lucrative NIL packages to prospective recruits.