Rubio to introduce bill allowing NCAA athletes to make money from name, likeness

Rubio to introduce bill allowing NCAA athletes to make money from name, likeness
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Lincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire MORE (R-Fla.) will introduce a bill Thursday that would force the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to change its rules about allowing college athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness. 

Rubio’s bill would require the NCAA to establish new guidelines by June 30, 2021, and would also provide language to protect the group from lawsuits.

“The only people on campus that are prohibited from benefiting from their name, their image and their likeness are student-athletes,” Rubio said in a statement to USA Today, which was the first to report on the bill. “And that's just not a sustainable position … given the fact that many of these college athletic endeavors are now multibillion-dollar industries that are generating a lot of revenue for corporate sponsors and for university programs."

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“This is not an effort to harm college athletics," he continued. "Frankly, it's an effort to save it from what I think is going to become completely unmanageable if it's not handled uniformly across the board.”

Rubio said it was necessary to have a federal law regarding compensating athletes so that all students would be treated equally. 

“Here’s the problem: It’ll destroy college athletics, it’ll destroy college football, it’ll destroy college basketball, and it’ll hurt these schools. And it’ll hurt all these other sports that rely on the revenue generated by those TV sports like football and basketball,” he said in a video posted on Twitter, adding that the Federal Trade Commission will take action if the NCAA fails to implement new rules by next year.

“It protects the athletes, it allows them to be compensated, these kids deserve to make a little bit of money while they’re in college, and at the same time it will prevent the implosion of college athletics," he said. 

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To protect the NCAA from lawsuits stemming from any of the changes, the bill says “no cause of action shall lie or be maintained in any court.” Players would also have to have professional representation in making deals and would be required to report any money they make to their school and the NCAA. 

The proposal of the bill comes after California, Colorado and Florida have introduced state laws to help athletes make money off their name, image and likeness, but no federal standard currently exists. 

A bill addressing the issue has already been introduced in the House by Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerJerry Falwell Jr. placed on indefinite leave GOP congressman calls for Falwell's resignation Pence confidant helps 24-year-old beat Trump-backed candidate MORE (R-N.C.), but the legislation has not been advanced since March 2019.

Current NCAA regulations allow players to obtain sports scholarships but prohibits them from taking any form of outside payment. Colleges and universities are allowed to profit off the student-athletes’ likeness by selling jerseys and other promotional items.