One of the most senior Republicans on Capitol Hill, Wicker is also the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
In the new piece of legislation, which is similar to what he introduced back in 2020, Wicker presents a framework for NIL compensation that would “preserve amateurism in college sports.” This marks at least the eighth piece of NIL legislation to be introduced in Washington, D.C., and the first since former Auburn football coach turned U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville announced plans in early August to draft a bill.
Most importantly, the bill prohibits former student-athletes from retroactively suing over NIL. The legislation also states athletes would not be considered employees — a main piece of the argument Republicans and Democrats have had over NIL legislation.
The Collegiate Athlete Compensation Rights Act comes after a summer filled where conference commissioners called for reform driven by legislation on Capitol Hill. USC and UCLA made headlines this summer with their move to the Big Ten. The NCAA is undergoing a leadership change. And it also comes with November’s mid-term elections quickly approaching.
In his proposal, Wicker calls for an “Office of Sport” to be established within the Federal Trade Commission. From there, the office would enforce the laws put forward by the Mississippi senator. The U.S. Comptroller General would also be required to submit a report to Congress regarding the safety, education and safety of athletes.
The main priority, however, is it “protect student-athletes and their families from deceptive business practices or exploitation by unscrupulous actors.”
Collectives have littered the NIL landscape since the NCAA’s decision to lift its ban on NIL on July 1, 2021. Lucrative NIL deals are now being used as enticing recruiting tools, with powerful alumni networks raising and funneling money to recruits through collectives.
“The student-athlete experience has become an essential part of American athleticism and competition,” Wicker said in a statement. “To protect the players, maintain a level playing field in college sports, and preserve as much as we can of the amateur nature of college sports, it is imperative that Congress establish a uniform set of standards governing the NIL marketplace. This renewed proposal will help protect college athletes’ right to enter into name, image, and likeness agreements, while also ensuring that these agreements are not pay-for-play schemes or incentives for college commitments or transfers.”
Wicker previously served as the commerce committee chair before Democrats took control of the Senate. Wicker and Sen. Maria Cantwell, who has taken over as committee chair, discussed a bipartisan piece of NIL legislation last summer. The talks failed due to differing opinions on postgraduate healthcare benefits.
This move does not guarantee any movement on NIL legislation, though. Republicans and Democrats have gone back and forth on proposed bills, with Democrats putting a priority on health care and revenue sharing — as outlined in Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and three other Democratic senators filing of the newest version of the 2020 College Athlete Bill of Rights in Congress.