Tuberville, Manchin unveil proposed NIL legislation

Published 7:39 am Friday, July 28, 2023

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On July 25, U.S. Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced their Protecting Athletes, Schools and Sports (PASS) Act of 2023 to the U.S. Senate, which aims to address Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) in college athletics.

Tuberville and Manchin have been working on the proposed bill for more than a year, with a stated aim to “protect student-athletes, maintain fair competition and compensation, strengthen transparency and preserve the time-honored tradition of college sports.” This proposed legislation would be the first national legislation in an attempt create a national standard for NIL across the country.

“As a former college athlete, I know how important sports are to gaining valuable life skills and opening doors of opportunity,” Manchin said. “However, in recent years, we have faced a rapidly evolving NIL landscape without guidelines to navigate it, which jeopardizes the health of the players and the educational mission of colleges and universities.

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“Our bipartisan legislation strikes a balance between protecting the rights of student-athletes and maintaining the integrity of college sports. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to consider this commonsense legislation as a way to level the playing field in college athletics.”

The PASS Act would require collectives and boosters to be affiliated officially with a school or college, establish a national standard for NIL and preserves Title IX by ensuring that nothing in the PASS Act affects the rights of any student-athlete or any programs funded through Title IX. Also, the PASS Act would ensure that schools, conferences and associations are not liable for their efforts to comply with the PASS Act, prohibits NIL agreements that involve alcohol, drugs or conflict with existing school and conference licenses and requires student-athletes to ask permission to make use of existing intellectual property, like school logos or names.

It will also require agents and collectives to register with a regulating body, establish a public-facing website to publish anonymized NIL Data and require all NIL contracts to be disclosed within 30 days of reaching agreement.

This bill would also address the Transfer Portal by requiring student-athletes to complete their first three years of academic eligibility before allowing them to transfer without penalty, subject to few exceptions.

The bill also addresses health for athletes by guaranteeing health insurance for any sports-related injuries for uninsured student-athletes for up to eight years following graduation from a four-year institution. It would also require institutions generating more than $20 million and $50 million in athletic revenue to pay out-of-pocket expenses for two and your years, respectively. It requires institutions to honor the original scholarship commitment made to a student-athlete, implements a uniform standard contract for student-athlete use in NIL deals and also requires institutions to enhance curriculum on financial literacy, NIL rights and related legal and regulatory issues.

This bill would also strengthen enforcement and oversight by directing the NCAA to oversee and investigate NIL activities and report violations to the Federal Trade Commission.

“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. Our legislation with Sen. Manchin will set basic rules nationwide, protect our student-athletes and keep NIL activities from ending college sports as we know it.”

Since 2022, Tuberville and Manchin have solicited feedback and suggestions from the NCAA and various coaches, athletic directors and administrators across the country for this bill.

“The NCAA is transforming how it serves student-athletes by mandating Division I schools offer enhanced health, wellness and academic protections and is moving ahead to support student-athletes as they monetize their NIL rights, but there are some challenges facing college sports that only Congress can address,” NCAA President Charlie Baker said. “The NCAA is encouraged by the significant, student-athlete centric reforms included in the (PASS Act), introduced today in the United States Senate. This important legislation is a major step in the right direction to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, includes key measures to increase consumer protections and transparency in the NIL market and aims to protect women’s and Olympic sports.

“There is clearly growing bipartisan interest in taking legislative action to create a stable, sustainable and equitable foundation for future generations of student-athletes and we are committed to working with all stakeholders to get this done.”

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins

Various athletic director and administrators across the country have weighed in on the potential legislation. Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins provided his thoughts on the bill to The Messenger.

“We are very concerned about the future of amateur athletics in America. I commend Senators Tuberville and Manchin for taking on this complex issue, which cuts to the heart of our student-athletes’ welfare,” said Hawkins. “This legislation should ensure a level playing field for all university football programs, not only in the recruiting process, but also in serving the student-athletes once they are on campus.”

The PASS Act now must pass the U.S. Senate before moving on the House of Representatives. If it passes in both chambers – with revisions or as is – the president would then have the ability to sign it into law or veto the bill.