Saban Scalise and Kelly

U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, middle, talks to LSU Football Coach Brian Kelly, right. Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban, left, also attended the private meeting Thursday, June 8, 2023, to discuss national legislation to oversee Name, Image and Likeness rules that allow some college athletes to be compensated for off-the-field work.

WASHINGTON – LSU football coach Brian Kelly and University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban met privately with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise Thursday to discuss legislation that would regulate the name, image and likeness, or NIL deals that pay college athletes.

“For all of us who love college athletics, it is important that we have strong student-athlete protections and consistent rules for NIL deals,” Scalise, R-Jefferson, said after the meeting in his office, which also included Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey.

“Now that NIL deals are here to stay, we don’t want college athletics to become the Wild West with 50 different sets of rules, so we have a growing bipartisan group of members of Congress who have come together to draft legislation that would create a national standard with protections for student-athletes and transparency for universities,” Scalise added.

SEC officials were on Capitol Hill Wednesday night and Thursday to press Congress to enact NIL oversight legislation.

The NCAA enacted rules in June 2021 that allow student-athletes competing in states without an NIL prohibition to be compensated as long as they aren't paid to play in or sign with a program. 

Much of the NIL largesse has come in the form of commercials by paid college athletes for businesses and law firms. But the private governing body for college athletics hasn’t yet fleshed out its rules on NIL.

SEC officials are lobbying Congress to come up with a legal framework that would apply nationwide.

Two bills are being discussed in the U.S. House and Senate.

One is by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Florida, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce committee.

The Fairness Accountability and Integrity in Representation of College Sports Act, or FAIR College Sports Act, is still in draft form, but would prohibit team boosters from offering inducements to play for particular colleges and require agents of NIL propositions to register and report their transactions.

“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," Bilirakis said May 23 when he released the draft.

The other bill, which is still in the works, is sponsored by U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Alabama Republican Tommy Tuberville, who once coached Auburn University’s football team.

“We are working with the NCAA, universities, and other partners to address this issue and come together on a solution that we can all agree upon,” Scalise said.

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