GOP Rep. Chip LaMarca — who backed a bill last Session allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness — says newly-proposed NCAA rules on the topic don’t go far enough.
As lawmakers crafted that legislation late last year, the NCAA Board of Governors announced it would move forward to formulate new rules regarding restrictions on its athletes.
That prompted Florida lawmakers to delay the effective date of their measure until 2021, giving the NCAA time to address the issue on its own.
On Wednesday, the NCAA announced it would back a plan allowing athletes to sign endorsements and receive other outside pay. But LaMarca argues those changes are inadequate.
“The recommendations today by the NCAA are about protecting their pockets, not about student athletes,” LaMarca said in a Wednesday statement.
“All we continue to hear are excuses from this multi-billion dollar, not-for-profit. Now they are shifting the blame for their deliberate inaction to the states that have passed meaningful legislation to protect students’ right to earn a living. It is absurd and shows they care more about protecting TV and apparel deals than they do about these young women and men who have worked their entire lives for this opportunity.”
The precise language of those new rules has not yet been finalized. But the proposal aims to give NCAA and universities latitude to block athletes from signing specific endorsement deals.
For instance, a portion of the proposal urges the NCAA Board of Governors to consider barring or limiting the ability for shoe and apparel companies to endorse athletes.
That could come into play if, for example, a university is sponsored by Nike but an athlete at that school wants to appear in an ad for Under Armour. It’s possible those final rules could disallow athletes from signing such a deal.
The NCAA working group behind the proposal has also not dealt with the issue of group licensing.
LaMarca says those and other provisions are preventing the athletes from joining the free market and are in conflict with Florida’s recently-approved legislation.
“The NCAA has blocked students from earning a living like their peers for far too long,” LaMarca continued.
“If the third largest state can do it, then so can this collegiate organization. With a global pandemic challenging our economy, now more than ever students must have the flexibility to continue their education and provide for themselves and their families.”
Republican Sen. Debbie Mayfield — who sponsored the Senate version of the state’s athlete compensation bill — called Wednesday’s announcement a “step in the right direction.”
But the National College Players Association (NCPA) disagreed, arguing the NCAA only made the move after pressure from state such as Florida and California which passed legislation on the issue.
“This is a rebuke to state lawmakers and legislatures working had to bring economic liberty to college athletes,” NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma said.
“This was a make or break moment for the NCAA, and it has failed. We encourage state lawmakers to continue fighting for justice on behalf of their college athletes.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to sign that bill which was approved last Session. And the NCAA’s Wednesday proposal also pushed for Congress to pass a federal law which would supersede measures at the state level — such as Florida’s.
It’s unclear whether Congress could agree on such a measure or how closely it would mirror the NCAA’s plan.