At Commerce Hearing, Tester Pushes for Swift Action on Name, Image and Likeness Rights for NCAA Student-Athletes

Senator, addressing NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert: “This is a solvable deal. It’s going to take folks communicating. It’s going to take everyone at the table.”

In a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing this week, U.S. Senator Jon Tester urged his colleagues to work with him to craft a bill establishing national Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) rights for NCAA student-athletes.

18 states have passed a patchwork of laws allowing student-athletes to benefit from their NIL, with six of those state laws going into effect this July. Witnesses including NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert, Gonzaga Head Basketball Coach Mark Few, Howard University President Dr. Wayne A.I Frederick, and others, all cited inconsistencies in state laws as a challenge to preserving equal opportunities for NCAA student-athletes and universities, leading Tester to press for a universal standard for all NCAA athletes.

“So would you also agree then, that if we were to do a national bill that would apply evenly across the board, so it wouldn’t be a patchwork, that that would be something that could help our student athletes, and help the universities behind them,” Tester asked NCAA President Mark Emmert.

“I think it’s the only sensible approach to this. So yes indeed I do.” Dr. Emmert responded.

Tester continued: “I’m very concerned that if we set up a patchwork … if the NIL isn’t done right, isn’t it a fact that it would impact all of the other sports out there that gives opportunity for a lot of folks that we never see on TV, that ESPN never reports on, and would actually take away opportunity from them?”

Emmert responded: “I think the failure to pass a national standard would indeed deny them that opportunity that you’re talking about … I hope that [a national standard] would provide opportunities that don’t exist today for student-athletes in a place like Havre, Montana.”

Tester is a longtime advocate for NIL rights for Montana student-athletes. The Montana State legislature passed an NIL law that is set to go into effect in June 2023. The six states with laws set to go into effect in July 2021 include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and New Mexico.

You can watch all of Senator Tester’s remarks HERE