During a recent conference titled “The Future of College Sports” sponsored by the University of Arizona, NCAA President Charlie Baker emphasized the urgent need for a federal law to regulate the compensation of college athletes for endorsement deals.
NCAA Urges Swift Action on Legislation Before 2024 Election Cycle
Baker expressed a sense of urgency, highlighting the importance of passing the law within this year due to the upcoming 2024 election cycle, which could potentially delay its progress. While one bill has already been introduced, Baker mentioned that at least two more bills are currently being developed.
Aware of the potential lack of congressional action, Baker stressed that the NCAA is prepared to take the matter into its own hands if necessary. Baker emphasized the necessity of establishing a comprehensive framework by the end of the year, regardless of whether it is achieved through the NCAA’s own initiatives or legislation mandated by Congress.
In 2020, the NCAA lifted its ban on college athletes earning money from sponsorship deals and endorsements. However, the absence of comprehensive regulations has resulted in varying standards across different states, creating an arms race within college sports. Athletes have had to rely on state laws, booster-funded collectives, and donor support for compensation.
Baker, alongside other college sports leaders, has been actively engaging with lawmakers in Washington to seek assistance in regulating name, image, and likeness (NIL) compensation. Drafts of potential NIL legislation have been circulating, and lawmakers such as senators Tommy Tuberville and Joe Manchin have expressed their intention to introduce bills.
Meanwhile, in April 2022 the NCAA approved partnerships between conferences, schools, and gambling companies, allowing them to distribute data and statistics for the purpose of optimizing matches and fixtures and providing better options for college sports betting fans.
NCAA Explores Revenue Expansion Beyond Men’s Basketball Championships
During the conference, Baker also addressed the NCAA’s stance on sports betting, recognizing it as a “major opportunity” for the association. While the NCAA was initially opposed to sports betting, Baker acknowledged its growing prevalence across the United States. He stressed the need to consider the impact of sports betting on college athletes and proposed the development of a program to equip them with the necessary tools to navigate this landscape.
Furthermore, Baker touched upon the NCAA’s efforts to maximize revenue through media rights negotiations for championships in sports other than men’s basketball. Although specific details were not disclosed, Baker expressed optimism about the potential opportunities for revenue growth and stated that these areas would receive increased attention over the next four to six months.At the same time, a survey conducted by the NCAA in May revealed that a majority of 18 to 22-year-olds, including college students, engage in sports betting, prompting the organization to gain a better understanding of the impact of gambling on young bettors and student-athletes.