Democrats Introduce Progressive Federal Bill on College Athlete NIL

    • Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Lori Trahan introduced the latest federal bill to allow college athletes to profit off the use of their name, image, and likeness.
    • The bill allows for group licensing rights, and prohibits the NCAA from limiting the amount of compensation athletes can receive.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) introduced the latest federal bill to allow college athletes to profit off the use of their name, image, and likeness.

It’s time to admit that something is very rotten when the industry makes $15 billion a year and many athletes can’t afford to put food on the table or pay for a plane ticket for their parents to see them perform,” Murphy said in a statement. 

The College Athlete Economic Freedom Act sits on the liberal end of the NIL legislation spectrum:

  • It prohibits schools from putting a ceiling on the amount of compensation athletes could receive, and from keeping athletes from representation in entering NIL deals.
  • It allows for college athletes to participate in group licensing deals — meaning that athletes could appear in properties like the future “EA Sports College Football” video game, for example.
  • It holds that schools violating the act would also be violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, which is significant given that the NCAA is currently lobbying for an antitrust exemption.

The bill’s stance on NIL is similar to that of Sen. Cory Booker’s College Athlete Bill of Rights, which would also allow for athletes to participate in group licensing deals. 

But unlike Booker’s bill, Murphy and Trahan’s bill doesn’t address other athletes rights questions, like whether athletes should be entitled to lifelong health benefits or education resources.

“Giving students a right to make money off endorsements is just one part of a much broader package of reforms,” Murphy said. “But it’s a good start.”