A discussion draft of a bill that would create a federal NIL regulatory body was tabled Tuesday by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Florida) revealed exclusively to CBS Sports.
The Fairness Accountability and Integrity in Representation of College Sports Act (FAIR College Sports Act) would prevent all existing and future state NIL laws, a limitation currently 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 chairs the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data and Trade, which has already held two NIL hearings.
A discussion draft is considered the next public step in the legislative process.
In addition to creating a federal regulatory agency to address NIL, the proposed legislation would:
- Protect athletes’ rights to earn NIL compensation and sign with agents. (The NCAA allows a limited scope of NIL benefits and currently only allows athletes to have agents for NIL marketing purposes.)
- Ban “pay-for-play” by prohibiting boosters, collectives and other third parties from “offering incentives to join or transfer” to specific institutions.
- Requires registration within 30 days for agents, boosters, and collectives when NIL deals are signed.
Legislation would not cover health and medical benefits for athletes — as contained in other proposed Congressional bills — nor the potential employment status of athletes, nor liability protections for schools or the NCAA itself. House sources say such protections are currently outside the body’s jurisdiction.
NCAA President Charlie Baker is seeking limited protection for the association to monitor NIL deals.
The regulatory body, if established, would be called the U.S. Intercollegiate Athletics Commission (USIAC) and tasked with overseeing NIL, including creating rules, enforcing those rules, and guiding athletes and collectives through the NIL process.
The draft defines a booster as an individual or entity that has made a sports-related donation to a school during the past five years “in an amount that exceeds the annual amount set by the USIAC.” A booster is understood to mean providing work for at least one student-athlete during that period. Collectives are defined as an organization of two or more drivers. Agents would be required to register with the USIAC.
A board of directors of a committee would be appointed by congressional leaders. The board would consist of student-athletes and various conference and NCAA division leaders. A chairman would be elected by a majority of the council.
Any entity violating the bill’s rules would face “appropriate disciplinary action.” The USIAC would leave enforcement to “existing agencies”, including the Attorneys General (for agents and third parties). The NCAA would still monitor athlete misconduct.
The USIAC would effectively act as a clearing house for NIL deals, although it would not be allowed to “establish athlete-student-athlete compensation”.
“It is the responsibility of Congress to establish clear rules so that our youth are protected, opportunities are promoted for them, and all types of amateur sports are preserved. Our goal is to ensure that NIL deals are transparent and fair, while we at the same time protect the integrity of college athletics,” Bilirakis said. “I intend to follow a deliberative process that is open to more recommendations, so we strike the delicate balance between preserving the ability of college athletes to benefit from their own NIL and preserving the amateur status of all college athletes.
“I am convinced that we can create a system that is fair, transparent and beneficial to everyone.”
The subcommittee held two bipartisan hearings in September 2021 and the end of March. Witnesses at the final hearing included 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 where the subcommittee will receive feedback from stakeholders on the draft. The Bilirakis Subcommittee has jurisdiction over when a bill is introduced.