Senator Cory Booker Slams NCAA as 'Cartel' During Name, Image, Likeness Hearing

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 22, 2020

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, NCAA President Mark Emmert testifies during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on intercollegiate athlete compensation on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Power Five conferences spent $350,000 on lobbying in the first three months of 2020, more than they had previously spent in any full year, as part of a coordinated effort to influence Congress on legislation affecting the ability of college athletes to earn endorsement money. At the hearing in February, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Congress needs to put “guardrails” on athletes' ability to earn money, in part to protect against potential recruiting abuses and endorsement money being used as a pay-for-play scheme. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh/Associated Press

Leaders from the NCAA's Power Five conferences converged on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee over the proposed Name, Image and Likeness legislation. 

Per Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, Senator Cory Booker said the NCAA is acting like a "cartel" and urged Mark Emmert to "sit down with those of us working on athlete student rights."

Emmert was open to a rule that would allow the opportunity for a student-athlete to transfer to any school one time without being forced to sit out for an entire year. 

The Division I Council did propose a one-time transfer rule in January, but the measure was turned down in May and will have to be proposed again by Nov. 1 to be voted on for the 2021-22 academic year. 

Senator Lindsey Graham, who presided over the hearing, said if programs use NIL as a recruiting tool it will "unleash holy hell on young college athletes."

Graham added that he doesn't want to get into a situation where schools "have a bidding war for recruits." The South Carolina senator also asked a Congressional working group to develop a package prepared by Sept. 15 that will address basic rights for student-athletes. 

Booker said the notion that paying student-athletes represents any more of a competitive advantage than coach salaries and upgrades to facilities is "plainly hypocritical."

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Dellenger wrote last week that the proposed legislation being presented by the NCAA, called the Student-Athlete Equity Act of 2020, offers a "window into the NCAA's thinking on a uniform set of athlete compensation guidelines."

Notable aspects of the proposal included delaying NIL deals until a student-athlete's second semester at school and would allow colleges to stop athletes from entering into NIL agreements that are deemed to "violate university standards or that conflict with institutional sponsorship agreements."

In the aftermath of numerous states across the country, including California and New York, signing into law or strongly considering NIL legislation that would allow student-athletes to earn money off their likeness, the NCAA asked Congress to get involved to help develop a uniform policy. 

"Having in the end 50 different state laws is a challenge to anything that's trying to be operated at a national level around the country," Emmert told reporters in December. "So having this discussion be elevated at the congressional level is very, very good and certainly welcome from my point of view."

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