US Senate considers tighter regulation of NIL policies

WASHINGTON — Members of the US Senate are considering more closely regulating the Name, Image, Likeness policies that are making big changes in the lives of top college athletes, including a women’s basketball star at the University of Iowa.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says there are at least three NIL-related bills now being considered and the topic is the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today.  “This is a first opportunity that we’ve had to hear directly before our committee from the people that are for and against this various help for students,” Grassley says, “and the extent to which student athletes can benefit from their own thing.”

Under recent rule changes, college athletes are allowed to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness through various marketing and promotional pursuits. Grassley, a Republican, says he hasn’t yet made up his mind about the issue and how it may impact the future of college sports. “We’re going to have universities tell us what they do to help outstanding athletes who get help from their athletic program to go to the universities, how much help they’re getting,” Grassley says, “and it does add up to a lot of help.”

UI women’s basketball standout Caitlin Clark recently signed with Nike and State Farm to do paid advertising. Bronny James, the son of NBA star Lebron James, reportedly has an NIL valuation of more than $7 million. From what he’s seen so far, Grassley says the NIL policies can help — or hurt — college sports programs.  “One of the very outstanding programs at the University of Iowa, and I don’t want to identify it,” Grassley says, “but they went after the six best players in the nation and they couldn’t recruit them, because other universities could outbid the University of Iowa.”

Grassley says there needs to be a “level playing field” so universities with lesser resources aren’t impacted by others.