US House Representative Mark Walker introduces legislation to force NCAA to allow athletes to retain NIL rights

Submitted by stephenrjking on March 14th, 2019 at 7:21 PM

Try to keep other politics out of this.

I was torn about this bill. On the one hand, I agree with its premise: I believe athletes should retain Name-Image-Likeness (NIL) rights to do things like endorsements. 

On the other, I am very uncomfortable with government getting involved in the rules of sports leagues.

However, this bill (now introduced, two pages long, linked here) is a very wise way to bring about change. It takes an area where government is already intervening--tax exemption for amateur sports organizations, which NCAA sports are considered--and disqualifies organizations from the exemption if the organization prevents its athletes from using NIL rights for income.

Thus, it does not attempt to change NCAA rules; it tells the NCAA and its member institutions that they get to pay taxes if they won't let the players profit from their own likenesses.

There might need to be some carve-outs for legitimately small enterprises, but I like this a lot. 

Comments

WhoopinStick

March 14th, 2019 at 7:31 PM ^

The problem I see with allowing things like this is it provides a way for boosters to “leagally” funnel money to players.  For example, what is to stop an Alabama car dealer (who’s a booster, or friends with boosters) from paying a million dollars to a player in exchange for the player committing to Alabama and for using the players image in a car dealer ad?  

stephenrjking

March 14th, 2019 at 7:39 PM ^

1. They already get benefits;

2. If they pay $1 million to, say, a QB, they won't have much left over to pay for offensive linemen to protect him. Car dealerships have money, but not unlimited cash.

3. I think it would be great if, instead of under-the-table stuff, a guy like Tua Tagovailoa could be featured on Dodge dealership billboards and on local tv commercials, drive a dealership car, and pocket $25-$50k for it. Imagine DPJ putting on Mel Farr's cape in a dealership commercial up here, or Shea Patterson on tv saying "when I've got a hunger craving, I get a Hot N Ready Little Caesars Pizza!" or something like that. 

The market will kinda figure itself out. A lot of this money that was going under the table will move above it. 

CMHCFB

March 14th, 2019 at 8:35 PM ^

 1. This happens at some level already, you may have heard about a basketball team or two that has bought players...  

2. Anyone who believes that players will not get FIL rights, like every other student has, will be very disappointed in the near future. 

3. This is the model the Olympic athletes use and the NCAA should be leading the way with this, not dragging their feet.  The economic inequities between the players who play and the school’s who profit are going to realign, to some degree, and they should.  

Mini Rant: People who claim the athletes already get a free education and that’s enough make me sick.   Who are they to judge, people shouldn’t be counting other people’s money, period.  They also come across like an athlete has the same opportunity of a non athlete to earn their degree, which is total bullshit.  If you play football on scholly, your life revolves around football.  You do not have the same freedom with class schedules or study time and no, a tutor doesn’t make up for that. 

s1105615

March 14th, 2019 at 7:40 PM ^

First of all...this happened a week or so ago, didn’t it?  

Second of all, it will never pass because it makes too much sense.  Non-athletes have no restrictions on using their likeness or profiting off their work, even if they are at school on academic scholarship.  It’s just so bald faced how disingenuous it is to state “an education is plenty of compensation” when everyone knows the education they get is nowhere near the same value that an athlete provides to an athletic department.

Alton

March 15th, 2019 at 9:34 AM ^

The bill may or may not be a good idea.  It may or may not have more positive effect than negative if passed.  I don't want to say right now.

But what I do want to say is that potentially stripping Universities of their tax exemptions will be a non-starter.  Does anybody actually think that any bill that might have the effect of denying tax exemption for Stanford or Harvard or Alabama would have even the tiniest possibility of passing?  

Think of the money involved.  Think of the lobbying machinery that could be brought into play to protect that money.  

stephenrjking

March 15th, 2019 at 10:52 AM ^

That's a good point; the wording doesn't appear to affect the universities at large, but rather "amateur sport organizations" that already have a separate carve-out. The NCAA and conferences, in other words. 

Which isn't to say that there won't be big-time lobbying going on anyway. 

Alton

March 15th, 2019 at 11:26 AM ^

Yeah, I looked at that and saw the "organizations" wording.  You are right about that.

So it supposedly applies to the NCAA, the Big Ten, the NCHC, the MHSAA, the USHL, etc.  All college and high school sports associations that require this certain type of amateurism.

However, in the end, "The NCAA" wasn't keeping Quinn Hughes from selling his likeness.  It was Michigan.  Michigan chose to belong to the NCAA, which doesn't allow Quinn Hughes to sell his likeness.  Michigan chose to belong to the Big Ten, which doesn't allow Quinn Hughes to sell his likeness.  If Quinn Hughes had sold his likeness, it still would have been entirely up to Michigan whether to allow him on the ice or not.

It's an interesting case, isn't it?  The Universities are creating this buffer called the NCAA between the public and the unpopular decisions the Universities make themselves.  The public and politicians vilify "The NCAA" and wonder why the NCAA won't do what's right, when it's the Universities themselves who don't want to do the right thing in this case.

The purpose of The NCAA is not to wield power, but to draw attention away from it.

stephenrjking

March 15th, 2019 at 12:45 PM ^

This post really stands well on its own.

There is leverage here, though. The NCAA makes $1 billion a year from the NCAA tournament. The Big Ten makes hundreds of millions; Michigan makes more from its conference payout (primarily tv money) than it does from ticket sales. 

All of that money would be taxable at the front end, as the conferences and the NCAA make it. 

So it makes for a significant revenue hit. 

Given that much of the NCAA power structure revolves around the inequality between revenue schools and just-getting-by schools, this may prompt organizational changes. For example, if small schools don't get hit much by this, they may choose to stand pat... but then the bigger schools have a large incentive to set up a separate system. If the small schools get hurt by this (I don't know how much NCAA money they get) it could allow the bigger schools, many of whom are supposedly in favor of greater player compensation, to get more leeway. 

Sopwith

March 14th, 2019 at 7:42 PM ^

Excellent. This removes the biggest impediment to paying players, namely putting it on the schools to figure out who gets how much, with all the fairness issues that could be involved.

This way, the market makes that decision. Revenue-sport superstars get more. Water polo players who can't swim but only got into school because their parents bribed the coach to give them a scholarship which they then forfeited immediately upon entering school thus completing the admission scam... get less.

America.

stephenrjking

March 14th, 2019 at 8:29 PM ^

That's the beauty here. This preserves the current system; it doesn't require universities to pay anything. It merely allows certain athletes to make additional money through endorsements and such, because the market can afford it. 

Third-rung tennis players and redshirting wrestlers and mid-roster field hockey players continue to make the same on scholarships that they did before. 

M Go Cue

March 14th, 2019 at 8:57 PM ^

I have some ideas, but usually unintended consequences aren’t known ahead of time.  Also, I’m not changing anyone’s mind here so it’s not worth my time.

I will say that one concern is that teams breaking rules now will simply do it bigger than anyone else, and now it will be within the rules.  And yes, I’m aware that teams do it now.  I just don’t think that Michigan can keep up with the 5-10 teams that will go over the top with this.

just enforce the current rules.

stephenrjking

March 14th, 2019 at 9:25 PM ^

1. Michigan doesn't keep up with the 5-10 top teams now. 

2. There is a belief here that Michigan tries to be "as clean as it can." At the very least, we don't think we are totally over the cliff the way the SEC is. If so, this allows Michigan, which has revenue consistent with a top 5 team, to level the playing field. 

Concerns of scale are overblown. We don't know what the "real" market is, but Michigan is likely to be near the top of it if there are real differences in scale.

3. The current rules are not being enforced and cannot be enforced.

M Go Cue

March 14th, 2019 at 9:39 PM ^

Nobody knows whether the concerns of scale are overblown or not.  If I was to go by the trajectory of the NCAA over the last 30 years I could say that the concerns are actually understated.

As far as the rules, they can certainly be enforced.  Put a full time compliance officer on all 129 FBS campuses.

stephenrjking

March 14th, 2019 at 11:03 PM ^

How about a full-time compliance department?

Here's LSU's 5-member compliance department listing.

North Carolina's compliance department listing includes 6 people.

Louisville has 7 people listed as compliance staff. 

And so does Ole Miss.

None of those compliance departments with MULTIPLE full-time staff members were able to prevent serious NCAA violations at those schools. 

The NCAA has no subpoena power. It has no mechanism to ensure cooperation by offending athletes, coaches, or institutions. 

There are multiple teams that have been identified on tape and in sworn testimony that are involved with or have players currently playing involved with serious NCAA violations. They will play in the NCAA tournament. The NCAA cannot enforce its rules, and it is simply unserious to think otherwise. 

M Go Cue

March 15th, 2019 at 7:03 AM ^

What did I say that has anything to do with politics?  Nobody ever changes anyone’s mind in an online discussion forum.  You are the one who called someone with a differing opinion a “Fox guy”.  Then you have the nerve to complain that it has become political?  Way to elevate the conversation.

Blue in Paradise

March 15th, 2019 at 10:18 AM ^

I disagree with you on the NIL rights impact but I agree with you 100% in terms of "politics".  I have no idea how someone would turn this into a partisan political debate (are there even left/right view points on this topic?  I have never heard that before).

That guy was trying to create "politics" out of people's posts.

M Go Cue

March 15th, 2019 at 5:34 AM ^

I mean a full time compliance officer who is an NCAA employee (not school employee) with an on campus office and full access to the athletic program.  I think that saying the NCAA can’t enforce its own rules is a little over the top.  They do all the time.  Bowl bans, scholarship reductions, vacated wins, taking banners down.  Schools volunteer to do some of this to avoid punishment.

pescadero

March 15th, 2019 at 8:52 AM ^

None of those compliance departments with MULTIPLE full-time staff members were really trying to prevent serious NCAA violations at those schools.... just keep them under wraps.

There is a difference between "NCAA compliance officer on campus" and "Compliance department employed by the University"

brad

March 14th, 2019 at 11:05 PM ^

Anything that allows large volume above-board money to flow to star players will help Michigan, because it will mitigate the value of under the table money.  Even if Michigan benefits somewhat from under the table money now, it's not possible M benefits as much as the SEC plus Ohio State.

tasnyder01

March 15th, 2019 at 12:53 AM ^

I'm under the assumption the rules can NOT be enforced. (I shan't cite here; they are obvious and redundant)

Assuming prohibition doesn't work, there *are* consequences. I admit that. But what about a limit? Say 450k for licensing? 

Honest thought -- where would a good line be? I assume there has to be a line.

bronxblue

March 14th, 2019 at 10:38 PM ^

Then what are the unintended consequences do you foresee?  People always trot out the "slippery slope" and "unintended consequences" warnings but rarely provide details of their concerns.  Because the only concern you've mentioned is some existential personal "enjoyment" of the games, which sounds like some rationalized bullshit.

The status quo means a ton of people tangentially related to the sport get paid gobs of money, the athletes get very little or have to get it through dubious means, and fans are forced to sit through interminable commercials, branded "experiences", and oversized noodles parked in front of stadiums.  Since #1 and #3 aren't going anywhere, might as well let athletes get a piece while keeping it above-board.

  

M Go Cue

March 15th, 2019 at 5:52 AM ^

First of all, I detailed one concern at 8:57.  I don’t think it will clean up any dirtiness, it will just make it more transparent.  Georgia or Ohio State could give all recruits guaranteed salaries and I don’t think Michigan would be willing to keep up.  I don’t think Michigan will benefit from transparent dirtiness as much as actual enforcement of the current rules.  What do you think some some the unforeseen problems could be?

The foundation of the argument by some seems to be that that players receive very little.  I disagree with this from the beginning. As I said earlier, the current model works for over 90% of student athletes.  I don’t agree with blowing up that model because under 10% of the participants are undervalued.  Let the AAF or NBA G League manage those players.

bronxblue

March 14th, 2019 at 10:38 PM ^

Then what are the unintended consequences do you foresee?  People always trot out the "slippery slope" and "unintended consequences" warnings but rarely provide details of their concerns.  Because the only concern you've mentioned is some existential personal "enjoyment" of the games, which sounds like some rationalized bullshit.

The status quo means a ton of people tangentially related to the sport get paid gobs of money, the athletes get very little or have to get it through dubious means, and fans are forced to sit through interminable commercials, branded "experiences", and oversized noodles parked in front of stadiums.  Since #1 and #3 aren't going anywhere, might as well let athletes get a piece while keeping it above-board.