Two senators ask NIL collectives to provide feedback on activities influencing college athletics

Donor groups dedicated to pooling resources earmarked for name, image and likeness payments for college athletes are being given an opportunity to explain how they can fit into two U.S. senators’ vision of a bill that would provide a national regulatory framework for college NIL activity and “protect student-athletes, ensure fair competition and compensation, and preserve the time-honored traditions of college sports.”

Sens. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and Joe Manchin, D-W Va., sent a letter Thursday to the directors of more than 30 “collectives” – groups that have been erected around most Power Five programs in the wake of NIL legislation that has taken effect in many states and has combined with the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Alston antitrust case to dramatically change the college sports landscape.

The letter, obtained by USA TODAY Sports, comes in the wake of similar correspondence Tuberville and Manchin sent last month to traditional colleges sports stakeholders seeking their input on potential NIL legislation. In their letter to the collectives, the senators said more than 70% of the responses “recommended that any future legislation address the issue of whether and how to regulate, control, or ban collectives."

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One respondent said collectives "are designed to compensate student-athletes in a thinly-veiled pay for play model damages the integrity of the collegiate athletic model, but more importantly eats away at the credibility and integrity of many fine institutions across the county," adding that "legislation should be put in place to restore the balance so an institution can protect its student athletes and fan base from schemes.” 

The request to the collectives is related to efforts from Tuberville and Manchin to introduce a new NIL bill, joining two pieces of legislation already introduced in the Senate without bipartisan support.

The "College Athletes Bill of Rights," introduced early last month by five Democratic U.S. senators, would codify athletes’ rights to make money through NIL opportunities into federal law, establish a medical trust fund to assist with health-care costs and create educational protections for athletes related to scholarship retention.

Last week, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., reintroduced the "Collegiate Athlete Compensation Rights Act," which in addition to echoing some of the points in the Democratic bill took aim at the creation and implementation of NIL collectives.

Wicker's bill would bar "institutions and boosters from using NIL to induce prospective student athletes or transfers to attend a specific institution" and create a new office within the Federal Trade Commission to "combat unfair and deceptive practices related to NIL."

The activities in Congress come as the NCAA is advocating for federal legislation to provide uniform guidelines on how athletes can profit from their NIL to help alleviate the current situation which is fragmented due to the existence of more that two dozen states having distinct laws on the issue. The legislation would also provide the organization legal protection from future lawsuits. 

The letter from Machin and Tuberville, which requests the feedback from the collectives on providing a regulatory structure for the organizations by Oct., 3,  states the intent to seek a "legislative solution: to protect student-athletes, ensure fair competition and compensation, and preserve the time-honored traditions of college sports."