Congress must pass name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation due to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) "lack of meaningful leadership and clarity" on the issue, according to U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn).
Tuberville told reporters in a video statement Wednesday afternoon that he and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) had just wrapped up soliciting NIL feedback from various stakeholders in August and would now begin reviewing this information over the next several weeks and "use it as we work to draft legislation and ensure the bill could earn bipartisan support in Congress and across the country."
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2021 that NCAA rules limiting "education-related benefits" violated federal law. Thus, student-athletes are now free to get compensated for their "name, image and likeness" while playing a college sport.
"The lack of enforceable rules has college sports accelerating down a path that leads away from the traditional values associated with athletic competition in higher education," Tuberville said. "NCAA's lack of leadership has created an environment where student-athletes can be exploited, and wealthy boosters can be empowered. That must stop. We look forward to a robust debate on this issue this fall and sharing more with you as time will allow."
Tuberville, a former head coach at Auburn University and various other universities, said in August that University of Alabama Coach Nick Saban, other college coaches, conference commissioners and university presidents had called him asking for help on the NIL issue.
In other news, Tuberville also noted the 50th anniversary of Title IX's enactment in June and current threats to the law from biological males competing as female athletes.
"This anniversary comes at an important and challenging time for female athletes," Tuberville said. "Their ability to train and compete fairly is under attack from activists in the current White House. Since 2003, at least 28 biological males have won titles in various women's sporting events around the world. This unfairly takes the opportunity for achievement away from their female competitors. If President Biden has his way, biological males winning women's sports championships would become the norm."
Tuberville said he would be submitting a public comment to the Secretary of the Department of Education on a proposed rule released in June that "would require schools to allow biological males to compete in all women's sports."
According to a U.S. Department of Education press release in June announcing the changes to Title IX, the rule would "protect LGBTQI+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics."
"Over the last 50 years, Title IX has paved the way for millions of girls and women to access equal opportunity in our nation's schools and has been instrumental in combating sexual assault and sexual violence in educational settings," U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release in June. "As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this landmark law, our proposed changes will allow us to continue that progress and ensure all our nation's students – no matter where they live, who they are, or whom they love – can learn, grow, and thrive in school. We welcome public comment on these critical regulations so we can further the Biden-Harris Administration's mission of creating educational environments free from sex discrimination and sexual violence."
Tuberville said "expanding the definition of sex to include gender identity will cause lasting, and I mean lasting, damage to the level playing field Title IX originally created for women.
"The change to Title IX would be a monumental setback for the generations of women who have benefited from the law over the last 50 years. The department should not move forward with this proposed rule but instead, work with Congress on legislative action meant to strengthen the protections afforded women in the original statute. I'm committed to preserving access to free and fair athletic opportunities for women at all levels of competition."
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