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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Congress’ Latest NIL Hearing

  • Every witness except one agreed that Congress should pass a federal NIL law.
  • The most common issue brought up was that NIL is creating a recruiting imbalance.
Photo: FAU Athletics/Design: Alex Brooks

On Thursday, a House Subcommittee held the first Congressional NIL hearing since rules passed. It’s the sixth hearing total after five took place in the Senate.

Five witnesses spoke: NCAA President Mark Emmert, CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams, Baylor President Linda Livingstone, Washington State golfer Cami March, and one non-NCAA representative: NCPA executive director Ramogi Huma.

The main takeaway? Every witness except one agreed Congress should pass a federal NIL law. Huma said he would only support a law that addresses “broad-based” reforms.

The other four witnesses listed several grievances about the current NIL era that they implored Congress to fix. 

The most common concern was that without a federal law, NIL is contributing to an uneven and unfair recruiting landscape — even though a recruiting arms race existed long before NIL.

They voiced other anxieties, too.

  • Emmert asked for “limited safe harbor protections” against litigation so the NCAA could govern NIL without “endless” lawsuits — aka an antitrust exemption. They’ve been begging for this in court and Congress for years.
  • McWilliams worried that a federal law imposing expensive NIL requirements would cause problems at lower-division schools with small budgets.
  • March said athletes need more education about financial literacy, personal branding, and other NIL-related business matters. 
  • Huma, on the other hand, argued that Congress should be looking at college sports issues beyond NIL, like health standards and sexual assault.

Despite three hours of debate, expect state laws to rule the day for at least a while longer. 

There’s more consensus on NIL in Congress than other national issues — but it still could be months before a law gets passed. 

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