NCAA

Congress debates NCAA NIL bill

With less than a month to go, five states will enact name, image and likeness laws for college athletes. Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico will open endorsement opportunities for college athletes on July 1. Meanwhile, the race is on for the NCAA and Congress to get federal regulations for the NIL bill before the five individual state bills take effect.

Time is of the essence

Commissioners from the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten, the Big 12 and the Pac-12 are pushing for a national standard for NIL laws. In addition to writing a letter to Congress, officials from the Power Five conferences released a joint statement pleading for a single nationwide framework.

The pressure is on to open endorsement opportunities for student-athletes out of concern for schools and athletes operating under differing NIL state laws.

NCAA’s delay in passing NIL legislation

Although the conversation of NIL laws is nothing new, the passing could cause a seismic change in college sports. However, the push towards allowing endorsements for college athletes does come with some complicated conversations.

Firstly, one of the biggest questions regarding the NIL bill is how the regulations would impact international student-athletes. ESPN Staff Writer David Hale explained the process behind obtaining student visas. He expanded on how new NIL rules would leave international student-athletes in a “gray area.”

According to Hale, international student-athletes account for about 12% of Division I athletes. Due to the condition within the visa program, international student-athletes are prevented from earning revenue from endorsements.

“If you are coming here as an international student and you are going to earn money from name, image and likeness, the federal government under current law is going to view you as a professional,” Hale said.

Therefore, under current legislation, international student-athletes cannot participate in gaining any revenue from name, image and likeness rights. He mentioned his recent conversations with international students who say they would be happy to see change within the visa process.

What’s next for NIL bill

Amid pressure to enact change, state legislators have now taken action. But Hale added how this can cause issues if each state operates under a different set of NIL rules. Such regulations could have consequences for coaches, largely in areas such as recruiting.

The goal for nationwide name, image and likeness legislation is for the same rules to apply to all schools and student-athletes. Looking ahead, Hale anticipates change to come eventually. But the question remains whether federal action will be taken before July 1.

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