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NCAA's Charlie Baker, Big Ten's Tony Petitti scheduled to testify at NIL legislative hearing

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos10/10/23


Andy Staples Week 7 Resume Rankings | 10.08.23

NCAA president Charlie Baker spoke for nearly an hour on a panel at the University of Arizona’s Future of College Sports Summit in Washington, D.C., back in June. He came out swinging, breaking down his wishlist for a Congressional NIL mandate and why it was the correct path forward.

Walker Jones, the executive director of The Grove Collective, which is focused on Ole Miss’ NIL efforts, shot back at the former Massachusetts’s governors comments in the following panel.

“With all due respect to the Governor (Baker), what he said what’s happening with NIL is terrible for athletes,” Jones said at the time. “Like that’s why everybody hates the NCAA. Sorry. It’s got to be more than just paying the player. Yes, we compensate them. But if we can put tools around them that help them.”

That will just be a preview of next week’s NIL hearing on Capitol Hill, which has been named, “Name, Image, and Likeness, and the Future of College Sports.” Sources have told On3 that Jones and Baker are both scheduled to testify as witnesses at next Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee legislative hearing, which was formally scheduled on Tuesday. A source confirmed that Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti is also scheduled to testify, too.

Sources have also told On3 the hope is for five witnesses to testify. Yahoo’s Ross Dellenger was the first to report on their attendance at the hearing.

Sources have indicated to On3 in the last 10 days that the effort has been led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The Republican from South Carolina is the ranking member of the judiciary. NIL falls under the committee’s purview because of the NCAA’s push for an antitrust exemption.

For various reasons over time, certain industries and organized groups have been exempted from the operation of US antitrust laws. These include organized labor, insurance companies and baseball. The NCAA has long pushed for the same exemption, which would not limit the governing body’s power in the collegiate market.

Back in May, On3 obtained an NIL bill draft from Sen. Graham’s office, which would establish an NIL clearinghouse, that would have the power to fine anyone, sue anyone and ban anyone from participating in college athletics.

What could be accomplished in Charlie Baker’s visit?

Next Tuesday will mark the 10th Congressional hearing since 2020 on NIL and the third since March. When the NCAA tabbed Baker as its president last December, the move was viewed as a smart hire for the governing body to find success on Capitol Hill.

Instead of rolling with a traditional choice that was entrenched in the bureaucracy of the association, Baker brought experience in lobbying politicians. Baker has made numerous visits to D.C. to educate lawmakers on why the NCAA believes Congressional legislation is necessary to govern name, image and likeness.

Speaking in front of athletic directors in June, Baker said his wishlist for a bill would include a registry of NIL deals, a certification process for agents and a uniform NIL standard.

All of this comes after the NCAA’s Division I Council unanimously voted to introduce four NIL proposals last week. The NCAA’s NIL subcommittee gathers this week to review proposals surrounding institutional involvement in the name, image and likeness space, too.

“As the Association makes these changes to improve the environment for young people with NCAA rules, I look forward to partnering with members of Congress to build on these protections and create greater consistency and opportunities for all college athletes,” Baker said in a statement last week.

An NIL bill has yet to even make it out of a committee, never mind come up for a vote in the Senate or House. Yet, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reaffirmed his views that the odds of an NIL bill being passed still sit at 60-40 at a small press conference before last Saturday’s Alabama-Texas A&M game.

What does Walker Jones represent on Capitol Hill?

While Charlie Baker and Tony Petitti will surely share views that line up with the NCAA’s stance on name, image and likeness, Jones will bring a different perspective. As an executive director of an NIL collective, he will also be representing The Collective Association (TCA), a trade association now made up of 24 NIL entities across the Power Five.

After last month’s legislative hearing, a group of TCA collectives held a sit-down meeting with Graham. Described as a “productive meeting,” the Senator was happy to take in the point-of-view of collectives. It’s the main reason why Jones will be at next week’s legislative hearing.

TCA holds similar beliefs to the NCAA on what it would like to see in NIL legislation. Chief among them is an agent registry and standards, which would set some rules for how agents would be forced to operate in the world of college sports and NIL. Most of the frustration around agents in the space doesn’t come from the major agencies focused on marketing or contracts but instead on the representatives that set up shops only to represent college athletes.

The trade association has also previously introduced a revenue-sharing model to the NCAA and SEC. Jones will be sharing those views and more. A crop of collectives will be supporting him in the audience, too. Representatives from NIL entities at Tennessee, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Duke, Iowa, Florida State, BYU, Arizona State and Georgia will be in attendance.

“Our objective is to enhance the quality of the dialogue with insights, data and perspectives that contribute to the development of well-informed and effective legislation that benefits all stakeholders while protecting the rights and interests of student-athletes,” said Hunter Baddour, who co-founded Spyre Sports Group and is viewed as a leader of TCA. “We look forward to the opportunity to share our perspective and real understanding of the importance of clear guidelines and policies in these legislative discussions.”