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Davis sponsors bill granting student athletes rights to their image

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, is co-sponsoring The Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act, a bill that would grant student athletes the right to capitalize off their own name, image, and likeness while including guardrails for the recruitment process and leveling the national playing field by pre-empting the patchwork of state laws that have been signed into law or are pending in state legislatures.

U.S. Rep. and former NFL and Ohio State wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, jointly sponsored the bill.

“I believe it’s a matter of fairness that college athletes should be able to earn income off their own name, image, and likeness,” said Davis. “They put in a lot of time, training, and effort to be a part of our nation’s college athletic system and deserve to be compensated for their work. That’s why I’m co-sponsoring the bipartisan ‘Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act.’ Our legislation would pre-empt state laws on this issue and create one national standard for NIL (name image likeness) policies governing student athletes. Student athletes should be entitled to earn a living off their hard work just like every other American.”

Said Gonzalez: “This bill has strong bipartisan support, highlighting that Congress can find a way to reach a bipartisan agreement on this important issue. I look forward to working with my colleagues to keep the momentum going and continuing our bipartisan work to provide NIL rights to student athletes and improve the college athletics system that Americans across the country know and love.”

“I want to be unequivocally clear: This is a civil rights issue,” said Cleaver. “For far too long college athletes across the country — many of whom are people of color — have been denied the basic right to control their name, image and likeness. What we wanted to do from the outset was come to a bipartisan consensus that puts forth a national framework that gives college athletes the same rights every other American in the country is already afforded. That’s exactly what this bill will do, and I’m proud we were able to put it together in a bipartisan way. As we know from our football days, it takes teamwork to make the dream work, and I want to thank Congressman Gonzalez for his willingness to put student-athletes first and work across the aisle in a way that will undoubtedly change lives for the better.”

The Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act:

•             Grants student athletes the right to capitalize off their own name, image and likeness and engage in agent contracts – The bill prohibits universities, the NCAA, or conferences from restricting student athletes from entering into NIL or agent contracts unless a contract falls into a category that could harm the reputation of a student athlete, such as tobacco or alcohol. The Federal Trade Commission is tasked with enforcing this provision, and student athletes can file a complaint with the FTC if they believe their rights are infringed upon.

•             Establishes one federal standard – The bill pre-empts any existing or prospective state law on NIL, creating one federal standard and a level playing field for college athletics.

•             Provides Congressional oversight– The bill establishes a commission appointed by Congress and made up of a variety of NIL stakeholders, including student athletes. The commission is tasked with continuing to study the logistics of NIL as it is rolled out and providing legislative recommendations to Congress about ways the process could be improved.

•             Ensures student athletes are not considered employees of universities – The bill makes clear that universities should not compensate student athletes for the use of their NIL or allow a student’s NIL earning ability to affect their scholarship or financial aid status.

•             Protects the recruitment process – The bill amends The Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA) to include a definition of “boosters,” and details actions taken by boosters in the recruiting process that would be penalized through FTC enforcement.

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