Emmert urges NCAA-Congress talks on NIL issue

NEW ORLEANS — NCAA president Mark Emmert said Thursday at the Final Four that the association needs to work with Congress to create an uniform Name-Image-Likeness model across all 50 states in order to properly regulate it moving forward.

Beginning last July 1, college athletes have had the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness. The NCAA has its own name, image and likeness policy, but it defers to individual state laws on the exact regulations surrounding it.

The different state-by-state laws, Emmert said, has made it difficult to adopt a consistent NIL model across all colleges and universities.

“It is unfortunately a circumstance where we’ve got now 30-plus different states with different laws,” he said. “We need to work with Congress to create one federal landscape. We’ve had a variety of legal actions in the courts with all of that.

“That supersedes the board’s ability … We have got to have Congress find a single legal model by which NIL and other relationships with student-athletes can be regulated. That’s going to be a big task.”

Emmert spoke at length Thursday about the landscape-shifting changes in college sports over the last few years, including NIL, the transfer portal and the Supreme Court’s decision in the NCAA v. Alston case – which unanimously found the NCAA was violating antitrust law by placing limits on the education-related benefits that schools can provide to its student-athletes.

“We’re at a place of huge disjuncture around college sports,” Emmert said. “We’ve got a relatively, in my opinion, short window of time during which the schools, especially in Division-I, need to decide what they want the relationship student-athletes and their schools to be, what the governance structure around that can be in the current legal environment, and how the rules and structures at a national level, a divisional level, at a conference level could and should be made.”

“We need to be ready, willing and able to shift and shift in dramatic ways,” he added. “Collectively, we’ve gotta sit down and map out what we want to do.”

Emmert also addressed the NCAA’s enforcement process surrounding the FBI-related cases, specifically in response to a question about Kansas being in the Final Four despite receiving a Notice of Allegations in 2019. He said the process has “taken way too long” and should be “fair, swift and not punish the innocent” – those who were not involved in the activities.

“We have to get it in a place that’s right and I don’t think there’s anybody who thinks it is,” Emmert said.

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