Power 5 Commissioners Send Letter to Congress Asking for National NIL Policy

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Power 5 league commissioners sent a three-page letter to Congress Friday asking for a national name, image and likeness policy to be implemented, according to Stadium's Brett McMurphy.

Stadium obtained a copy of the letter which supports legislation for a "single, national standard for NIL" that would preempt state laws and allow student athletes to be paid for endorsement deals from third parties.

Last month, the NCAA Board of Governors announced their support for adopting recommendations from a NIL working group to allow student athletes to be paid for sponsorships and endorsement deals as early as the 2021–22 academic year.

As part of the recommendations, athletes can sell autographs and memorabilia and be paid for personal appearances. Athletes must disclose financial terms of their contracts to their athletic departments, as well as their relationship with the parties involved. If they fail to share the details of their agreement or relationships, it could affect their eligibility. The NCAA could also allow athletes to accept endorsement money from boosters, as long as it's not used by boosters to try to recruit players for their schools.

In the letter, the Power 5 commissioners asked Congress to take note of two steps in the pay-for-play system: universities cannot pay athletes for NIL and boosters must be kept out of the recruiting system.

"This will be best achieved by prohibiting boosters from engaging in NIL activity with student athletes that amounts to pay for play, and as well as requiring a term of academic progress before a student athlete can grant a NIL license."

The commissioners worry over various NIL rules being implemented at the state level, prompting their request for a national policy to be reached. The NCAA was forced to act more recently due to pressure from states over the issue. In September 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. The Act, which doesn't go into effect until 2023, makes it illegal for California colleges to deny student athletes opportunities to gain compensation for the use of NIL. 

Multiple states have proposed similar bills since, and a bill in Florida could go into effect in July 2021 if signed by the governor. 

"We believe strongly that Congress should enact the framework for a clear national policy on NIL as soon as possible and not wait for the NCAA process to conclude before moving forward with a national legislative plan," the letter said. 

"We intend to work with the NCAA to shape those rules, but the Congressional process should move forward in the meantime. ...Time is of the essence."