A discussion draft of a bill that would establish a federal regulatory NIL body was revealed Tuesday by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Florida) exclusively to CBS Sports.
The Fairness Accountability and Integrity in Representation of College Sports Act (FAIR College Sports Act) would preempt all existing and future state NIL laws, a limitation currently being sought for Congress to address by the NCAA.
Bilirakis is a member of the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee. In that role, he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data and Commerce, which has already conducted two NIL hearings.
A discussion draft is considered the next public step in the legislative process.
Beyond creating a federal regulatory body to address NIL, the suggested legislation would:
- Protect athletes' rights to earn NIL compensation and sign with agents. (The NCAA allows for a limited scope of NIL benefits and currently allows athletes to have agents for NIL marketing purposes only.)
- Ban "pay-for-play" by prohibiting boosters, collectives and other third parties from "offering inducements to attend or transfer" to specific institutions.
- Require registration within 30 days for agents, boosters and collectives when NIL deals are signed.
Legislation would not address health and medical benefits for athletes -- as contained in other proposed Congressional bills -- nor would it address athletes' potential employee status nor establish liability protections for schools or the NCAA itself. House sources say such protections would be out of the body's jurisdiction at the moment.
NCAA president Charlie Baker has been seeking a limited protections for the association to control NIL deals.
The regulatory body, if established, would be named the U.S. Intercollegiate Athletics Commission (USIAC) and charged with overseeing NIL, including setting rules, enforcing those rules and providing guidance to athletes and collectives on the NIL process.
The draft defines a booster as an individual or entity that, during the previous five years, has made a sports-related donation to a school "in an amount that exceeds the annual amount determined by the USIAC." A booster is defined as providing employment for at least one student-athlete during that period. Collectives are defined as an organization of two or more boosters. Agents would have to register with the USIAC.
A commission board of directors would be appointed by Congressional leaders. The board would be made up of student-athletes and various conference and NCAA division leaders. A chairman would be elected by a majority of the board.
Any entity found to be in violation of the bill's regulations would be "appropriately disciplined." The USIAC would leave enforcement up to "existing agencies," including state attorneys general (for agents and third parties). The NCAA would still oversee wrongdoing by athletes.
The USIAC would basically stand as a clearinghouse for NIL deals, though it would not be allowed to "fix athlete student athlete compensation."
"It is Congress' responsibility to establish a clear set of rules so our young people are protected, opportunities for them are promoted, and amateur sports of all kinds are preserved. Our goal is to ensure that NIL deals are transparent and fair, while protecting the integrity of college athletics," said Bilirakis. "I am intent on following a deliberative process that is open to more recommendations so we strike the delicate balance of preserving the ability of college athletes to profit from their own NIL while maintaining the amateur status of all college athletes.
"I am confident we can create a system that is fair, transparent, and beneficial for all."
The subcommittee held two bipartisan hearings in September 2021 and late March. The latter hearing featured, as witnesses, a current and former NCAA athlete, Patriot League commissioner Jennifer Heppel, Washington State athletic director Patrick Chun and athlete activist Jason Stahl.
There will be a comment period with the subcommittee receiving stakeholder feedback on the draft. Bilirakis' subcommittee has jurisdiction over when a bill would move forward.