Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) helped lead today’s House Energy and Commerce Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on the NCAA’s name, image, and likeness (NIL) policy.
During the hearing, Cathy emphasized the importance of ensuring college athletes have the chance to succeed both professionally and academically. She was also glad to welcome Washington State University Director of Athletics Patrick Chun to testify about how Congress can work with the NCAA to develop federal standards that provide enforceable safeguards that mitigate the negative impact of the existing NIL environment.
Highlights and excerpts from Cathy’s opening statement as prepared for delivery:
THE STATE OF PLAY
“The Supreme Court blew the whistle on the NCAA in 2021 as it unanimously ruled it could no longer prohibit college athletes from receiving compensation for their NIL.
“The ruling could not have been clearer. The NCAA was overly restrictive in its prohibition of athletes profiting from their NIL.
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s ruling did not offer clear rules of the road.
“It is unreasonable to expect student athletes to balance their studies with navigating a maze of complex and conflicting laws. They are put in a potentially devastating position of running afoul of rules they would need a law firm to provide counsel on.
“Without a clear and consistent set of rules in place, the entire ecosystem is disrupted, and important elements of the educational experience are decimated.
“We cannot allow an outcome here where thousands of college athletes lose the opportunity to compete in the sports they love.
CLEAR PROTECTIONS ARE NEEDED
“The current NIL chaos means student athletes are left to fend for themselves and those at the top of their game must figure out how to maneuver through a multitude of agents, collectives, and high dollar contract offers—all while maintaining their academic and athletic commitments.
“The recent changes in NCAA NIL policy recognize what has always been true: these collegiate athletes are more than just athletes—they are small business owners, podcasters, and entrepreneurs.
“We must give them clear guidelines for how they explore and nurture these talents.
“We must also establish clear, national rules so that amateur athletes have every chance to succeed in life and in sports.
“Every one of us takes great pride in the universities and colleges in our home states. We all want our student athletes to be successful, both on and off the field.”
Highlights and excerpts from Washington State University Director of Athletics Patrick Chun full testimony:
“Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) While Washington State takes pride in the benefits and experiences it provides our student athletes, we acknowledge there is a need for more. NIL was intended to be the next significant benefit permissible for student-athletes.
“Like any other student on campus, student-athletes deserve the right to monetize their Name, Image and Likeness based on their reputation and platform. Although true NIL provides tremendous opportunities for student-athletes, the existing environment consists of recruiting inducements, tampering and ultimately pay-for-play, and is wrought with pitfalls and misinformation.
“Only with accurate and required transactional information can student athletes ensure they are not being taken advantage of by bad actors giving false promises. By shielding information, third parties have profited from the uninformed decisions of student athletes.
“Only with oversight and uniform regulation will unscrupulous third parties begin to act with the best interest of student-athletes at heart. Call to Action On behalf of Washington State University and President Schulz, we are committed to being a part of the solution.
“We respectfully ask Congress to partner with the NCAA and our member 8 institutions to develop federal standards that provide transparency and enforceable safeguards to mitigate the negative impact of the existing NIL environment.
“This will help ensure student athletes benefit from the full potential of their NIL. It is also vital that we affirm the current relationship between student-athletes and institutions. WSU supports meaningful oversight that provides protection and value to the student-athlete and ensures that institutions and outside entities are complying with standardized rules and governing policies.”
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