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Desperation is on its way to the NCAA as Congress looks slow to go on name, image and equality



Three weeks before name, image and equality rights will begin somehow for college athletes, desperation is about to enter. That was the overall message Wednesday from a U.S. Senate hearing on the NIL.

After many years of arguments, twists and trials, it has come down to this: Congress must act to control some version of amateurism for the next 21 days. If not, there is the perception that additional benefits will run wild in the streets from July 1st.

“We need your help,” Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few told lawmakers. “This is not a problem that the NCAA and individual states can solve.”

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That may be the most convincing NIL statement from a sitting Division I coach. It is out of his hands; it’s out of the NCAA’s hands. On July 1, at least five states will implement NIL laws that allow athletes in those states to have benefits that the other 45 states do not allow.

So what?

“How do you put the cat back in the bag after July 1st?” Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) asked Marquette law professor Matthew Mitten during the hearing.

“I do not think you can,” replied Mitten. “I think that’s exactly the problem.”

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is doing commendable work to amass a bipartisan NIL bill through her chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Committee. That was her hearing on Wednesday. However, there is growing evidence that a federal bill coming from trade – if it is actually developed – will not be enough.

There’s the thorny issue of disclosure. Should athletes be required to share their approval contracts with … anyone? Schools have taken great steps to protect students’ information from the public. It’s federal law. Should schools not be kept to the same standard in NIL? Should schools themselves know what the profit margin is for an equestrian athlete who markets a clothing brand?

If not, does anyone trust the NCAA to decide what’s too much? Does anyone deserve to know that? If not, there will be virtually no limit to NIL earnings.

Oddly enough, none of these questions were asked during Wednesday’s three-hour hearing.

It’s just one of the major problems, and time is running out.

NIL going forward is really about responsibility – allowing athletes some form of their rights while protecting the NCAA from being sued over it. The NCAA is desperate – there’s that word again – for legal protection against a class action lawsuit by players from the past who are suing their NIL rights.

That is why we are here in the first place. Ed O’Bannon saw his picture on the front of a video game and wanted compensation. A former West Virginia running back who last played in 2012 sued the NCAA because of unlimited educational benefits. An appeal of this case is currently in the U.S. Supreme Court; it threatens to upgrade the collegiate model separate from NIL.

The NCAA sees these legal actions as ominous and endless if they are not protected. Others saw them as transforming.

Just do not expect any drug to happen before July 1st. It becomes clear.

Get statement made it open in Congress Halls: Help us.

The NIL laws of the states are similar but different enough for concern. On July 1, athletes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico will be able to sign approval offers, sell autographs, own YouTube channels and more.

Please note: Quotations have already been signed with athletes who only need the calendar to switch to press the send button on contracts.

There will be surprising amounts of money thrown around. Elsewhere in the country, athletes do not have these rights unless the NCAA provides what would be a temporary waiver.

“Only Congress can adopt a national solution for student-athlete NIL rights,” Power Five wrote in a joint statement Wednesday. “The patchwork of state laws beginning July 1 will be detrimental to student-athletes in some states and create a useless system for others. As leaders in college athletics, we support the expansion of NIL rights in a way that “All students’ educational opportunities. Athletes, including college athletes, who made up 80% of Team USA at the Rio Games. We continue to work with Congress to develop a solution for the NIL and expand the opportunities.”

There are those who claim that extra benefits are already running wild in college athletics – every day. There is dark money floating under the table when recruiting. NIL permissions do not resolve this issue. Separate from that, there is a competitive advantage that Alabama has that is not affected by the NIL in one way or another. Two words: Nick Saban.

Privately, the NCAA believes it can be protected from these various laws by a 33-year Supreme Court ruling in the Jerry Tarkanian case. The so-called “trade clause” saved the NCAA in 1988, making it possible to punish the former UNLV coach, even though several states had enacted legislation on due process. That would have required the enforcement of the NCAA to be more like criminal proceedings.

But it will take time, and lawyers (who want a fee of 30%) to work in such a case. No one involved in NIL has that time.

Competitive advantage? It happens every day. States have different tax laws. There’s a reason people move out of California in droves. Tax deductions attract companies. Other states choose not to offer such tax breaks. The real world is working on these issues.

The NCAA still portrays itself as the ultimate fatherly gatekeeper. If it can not have some control over a problem it has ignored for far too long, the less than real world of college athletics collapses. In fact, as each day goes by without any action, the power of the NCAA diminishes.

The NCAA has been sitting in the proposed NIL legislation for at least six months while they wait to see what the government does. First, it was the U.S. Department of Justice with antitrust issues. Last month, NCAA President Mark Emmert called on his organization to pass the proposed legislation.

We’re still waiting.

“We’re recruiting nationally, even internationally,” few said. “Not having the ability to compete on a kind of equal footing against people who can deliver monetary gifts is a disadvantage we could not compensate for.”

This came from the coach of a small private school in Spokane, Washington, who was just playing for the national championship. Few also just signed the No. 1 player in the country and landed recruitment class No. 2.

Every day, there are few recruits against other superpowers from states, some of which will have NIL rights in three weeks and others will not.

Does the NIL difference remove Gonzaga? In that case, Texas and Miami would already win national championships with the existing competitive advantages. Despite the benefits of weather and being in powerful media markets with Fortune 500 companies in populous states, the Longhorns and Hurricanes have not been in many Final Fours recently.

Does NIL change all that? We need an answer quickly.

Time is running out.




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