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Walker Introduces Student-Athlete Equity Act to End NCAA Restrictions on Player's Publicity Rights

March 14, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) today introduced the Student-Athlete Equity Act, bi-partisan legislation that would amend the definition of a qualified amateur sports organization in the tax code to remove the restriction on student-athletes using or being compensated for use of their name, image and likeness – forcing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to change it's current model. The lead cosponsor of the bill is U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond (D-La.).

"Signing an athletic scholarship with a school should not be a moratorium on your rights to your name, image, and self-worth," Walker said. "It’s time to bring equity to student-athletes and fix the injustices that exist in the current NCAA model. After nearly two years of discussions with players and leaders, we are introducing legislation that won’t cost the NCAA or our schools a single dollar, while empowering college athletes with the same opportunities that every American should have in a free-market."

“The Student-Athlete Equity Act is a clear cut first step at leveling the playing field for collegiate athletes whose labor generates significant revenue for the colleges and universities they serve and have done so for years,” said Rep. Richmond. “Student-athletes deserve the right to protect their name, image, and likeness that amateur sports organizations, such as the NCAA, currently restrict. These athletes generate enough revenue to pay for state-of-the-art athletic facilities, massive coaching salaries, and even contribute to the endowment at their respective colleges and universities. As young men and women who stimulate the economics of the NCAA, they should also be able to secure their own economic well-being. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation and look forward to continuing the conversation on advancing the educational and financial equity of all student-athletes.”

The legislation was highlighted in a story last week in the Raleigh News and Observer that noted "Walker, a third-term congressman from Greensboro, called on the NCAA to change its rules in May, saying at that time that legislation could follow."

"Walker’s bill introduction will happen just days before the start of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament," the story also notes. "CBS and Turner Sports are in the middle of a 22-year, $19.6 billion television contract, which includes an eight-year, $8.8 billion extension signed in 2016, to broadcast the event through 2032."

"Fans want the best for their teams' players, Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition, said. "For student-athletes, that starts with giving them back rights over their own image and likeness. College athletics provide outstanding educational opportunities to students, but that should not come at the sacrifice of their personal identity. The Student-Athlete Equity Act will go a long way to improving the lives of our athletes and, therefore, their performance on and off the field. All fans can get behind that!"

Read the full text of the Student-Athlete Equity Act here.