US lawmakers discuss future of college athlete protections

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to improve conditions for college athletes around the country.

“We need to listen to the athletes,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.

Blumenthal and other members of the Senate Commerce Committee say college athletes deserve consistent protections and rights.

“I expect this Congress should block any NIL standard that is weaker than the strongest state standard,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal’s own state just passed a name, image, and likeness, or “NIL” law for athletes, but he says all players deserve protection no matter where they’re located.

“They want more than to be just shown the money. They want more than just NIL. they want a strong enforceable standard,” Blumenthal said.

Some lawmakers and experts believe a single federal NIL model is better than a patchwork of laws in individual states.

“The only way to ensure that all student-athletes across the country have the same NIL rights and protections is for Congress to act,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said.

Despite his support, Wicker says Congress doesn’t have enough time to pass the right standard before the first state NIL laws begin taking effect.

“These issues deserve deep and thoughtful consideration,” Wicker said.

But NCAA President Mark Emmert also wants Congress to develop a national standard as soon as possible, which also supports Title IX protections and non-employment status of student-athletes.

“With these provisions, a federal solution would maintain opportunities for college athletes in all sports,” he said.

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