Will Congress Pass Federal NIL Legislation?

Published: McLane Middleton
January 6, 2023

A few months ago, our Sports Practice Group hosted a panel event focused on name, image, and likeness (NIL), which featured discussion among Michael McCann of The University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law, Doug Fillis of Accelerate Sports Ventures, Carly Pariseau of Boston College, and me.  Our discussion considered the possibility of U.S. Congress passing legislation to address NIL at the federal level.  There was not a clear answer as to whether or not federal legislation would happen any time soon.

Fast forward to this week, and Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fl.) has authored a piece for Sportico titled “Why This Congress Needs to Pass a National NIL Standard.”  Here are some of the points that jumped out at me:

  • The first year of NIL activity yielded approximately $917 million in earnings for college athletes.  Projections for the second year anticipate $1.14 billion in NIL compensation.  (Congressman Bilirakis cited Yahoo Finance for the foregoing figures.)
  • Congressman Bilirakis plans to introduce legislation that would “establish a national preemptive standard under which all [student-athletes] will have the same opportunity to enter into agreements with companies” to earn NIL compensation.  The goal is “to create a true level playing field for all students and educational institutions” across the country.
  • The “patchwork of state laws” that has developed in the aftermath of NCAA v. Alston presents difficulties for student-athletes, educational institutions, and athletic programs alike.  Student-athletes have raised issues about a confusing and ambiguous landscape.  Institutions and their athletic programs harbor concerns with respect to recruiting talent.  Among other issues, inconsistent regulation of NIL activities across state lines potentially gives certain schools a recruiting edge.