Walker Releases Statement on Proposed NCAA Changes to Publicity Rights for Student-Athletes
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) today released the following statement after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Board of Governors "supported rule changes to allow student-athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements both related to and separate from athletics":
“Today is either the day that a wall of injustice around student-athletes started to crumble, or the day the NCAA used more tactics to bait and switch young men and women from some of America’s most vulnerable communities. My hope is the former and that the proposal on name, image, and likeness is genuine. If enacted in good faith, this move will save the college sports we love by creating equity, transparency, and opportunity.
“While congressional focus was paramount to getting here, the working group’s final report has some reason for pause at the implied request for the NCAA to have anti-trust exemptions. The NCAA has spent decades using their lawyers to keep young men and women from receiving basic constitutional rights, even as they grew to a billion-dollar-a-year organization. I am sure those same lawyers can help them navigate this action without congressional intervention.”
Last year, Walker introduced H.R. 1804, the Student-Athlete Equity Act. It is 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 NCAA to change its current model.
U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond (D-La.) is the lead co-sponsor of the bill.
“For far too long, the NCAA has arbitrarily set a sham definition of amateurism to strip college athletes of the rights to their own names and self-worth, only promising to create do-nothing commissions when others highlight their exploitation,” Walker said after California Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law. “With only a short time until the law takes effect, it is imperative that the House Ways and Means Committee begins to review and advance my Student-Athlete Equity Act.”
Late last year, Walker hosted a roundtable discussion with ESPN analyst and former college basketball player Jay Bilas, former NFL and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes, U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond (D-La.), U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), U.S. Representative John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), and thought leaders in college athletics reforms.
Read the full text of the Student-Athlete Equity Act here.