Trahan, Murphy Introduce Legislation to Allow College Athletes to Make Money Off Their Name, Image and Likeness
Washington, February 4, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03), a member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and a former college athlete, and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Thursday introduced legislation that would allow college athletes to make money off their Name, Image, and Likeness. The College Athlete Economic Freedom Act specifically lifts restrictions on how college athletes make money off their talent.
"As a former Division I athlete, I'm all too familiar with the NCAA's business model that for decades has utilized the guise of amateurism to justify obscene profitability while student athletes have struggled to get by. As leaders at the NCAA finally come to grips with the need for change, it's important that Congress enact reforms to establish and protect student-athletes' right to be compensated for the use of their name, image, likeness, or athletic association. The College Athlete Economic Freedom Act will do just that, and I'm proud to introduce this bicameral legislation with Senator Murphy," said Congresswoman Trahan.
"I love college sports, but it's time to admit that something is very rotten when the industry makes $15 billion a year and many athletes can't afford to put food on the table or pay for a plane ticket for their parents to see them perform. Big time college athletics look no different than professional leagues, and it's time for us to stop denying the right of college athletes to make money off their talents. If predominantly white coaches and NCAA executives can have unfettered endorsement deals, why shouldn’t predominantly black athletes be afforded the same opportunity? The legislation Representative Trahan and I are introducing today provides unrestricted rights for college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness by signing endorsement deals, running camps, or other means. It's simple: this is about restoring athletes' ownership over the use of their own names and likeness. They own their brand, not their school or the NCAA. Giving students a right to make money off endorsements is just one part of a much broader package of reforms that need to be made to college athletics, but it's a good start,” said Senator Murphy.
"We support Senator Murphy's efforts to advocate for all college athletes by addressing the unique implications of NIL policy on collegiate female-athletes. We support the opportunity for all athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. We must ensure that NIL policy is universally beneficial without negatively affecting women's sports and compromising the integrity of Title IX. It is necessary and possible that NIL legislation adopt measures that protect female-athlete opportunity in sport,” said Stef Strack, Founder of Voice in Sport—a Sports Advocacy Platform.
“COVID-19 has proven how college athletes are anything but amateur. College sports generates $15 billion every year for everyone except the athletes actually playing the game. It’s slave labor in a downright dictatorship,” said Draymond Green. “Everyone wants to pay lip service to the issue, but few like Chris Murphy are part of the solution. I’ve seen firsthand just how backwards the NCAA’s likeness restrictions for college athletes are and how myself and my teammates struggled to make ends meet. Murphy’s legislative proposal will be game-changing for the players, and I commend him for leading the way on this important issue.”
“Senator Murphy and Congresswoman Trahan have laid a necessary marker down with the College Athlete Economic Freedom Act in ensuring athletes have the same economic rights as literally everyone else, including every other student. In order to pursue education and their chosen field of endeavor, the field of athletics, athletes are treated differently than all other students: they are restricted by rule as to what they can earn or accept in the marketplace. No other student, on scholarship or not, is subject to an industry wide wage restriction. I believe that is profoundly unfair, especially in light of athletes’ roles as primary revenue drivers in this multi-billion dollar industry. It is past time to remedy this unfair treatment, and the College Athlete Economic Freedom Act goes a long way toward righting these historic wrongs. I commend Senator Murphy and Congresswoman Trahan on this thoughtful and comprehensive approach to providing athletes with the same economic rights and protections as everyone else,” said Jay Bilas, Attorney and Basketball Broadcaster, former Duke University basketball player.
In November, Trahan, who received a scholarship to play women’s volleyball at Georgetown University, participated in a Sportico Live discussion titled “The N.I.L. Era” where she had an opportunity to talk about her views on Name, Image, and Likeness issues as a member of Congress and former D1 college athlete. She discussed her views on student-athletes being able to generate revenue off their own NIL, how this change would benefit athletes beyond football and men’s basketball, and what can be done in Congress to ensure that NCAA rules on NIL meet the needs of student-athletes.