The Drake Group issued a position statement applauding The Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act , introduced on September 14, 2020 by a bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives: Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Emanuel Cleaver (MO), Marcia Fudge (OH), Steve Stivers (OH), Rodney Davis (IL), Jeffrey Duncan (SC), Josh Gottheimer (NJ) and Colin Allred (TX). The Act, if adopted, would prohibit the NCAA and other national or conference governance organizations or their member institutions from declaring college athletes ineligible for collegiate athletic participation because they enter into endorsement contracts or retain agents to represent them in obtaining such contracts.
The Drake Group commended nine elements of the Act including those that maintained the “student” relationship between the higher education institution and the college athlete, designated the Federal Trade Commission as the enforcement agency to investigate allegations of unfair or deceptive acts or practices by college athlete agents, institutions or their boosters (instead of the NCAA) and giving athletes full freedom to enter into endorsement agreements, even with competitors of institutional sponsors, as long as they are subject to a narrow athletics contests/official university events condition. However, The Drake Group was also highly critical of various aspects of the Act including lack of clarity regarding the permissiveness of athlete self-employment, establishing a powerless temporary Commission instead of a permanent NIL Commission to determine and monitor the implementation of NIL standards, and lack of a mandate for transparency of NIL agreements, among others. See the full position statement: College Athletes Should Give U.S. House NIL Bill a “C+” Grade: Kudos and Criticism of The Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act.
Further, The Drake Group expressed the belief that such federal NIL legislation should be embedded in a more comprehensive bill that conditions receipt of Higher Education Act funding on higher education institutions providing students participating in intercollegiate athletic programs with sufficient health and medical protection, improved educational benefits that lead to better graduation rates, greater freedom of college athletes to attend institutions of their choice, and a stronger athlete voice in the governance organizations that control their athletics experience. House sponsors of The Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act were urged to join forces with Senate proponents of the College Athlete Bill of Rights to accomplish such broader collegiate athletics reform purposes.
Last, The Drake Group expressed strong support for H.R. 5528, the Congressional Advisory Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Act because even if a more comprehensive athlete protection bill can be accomplished in the near future, there will remain a need for Congress to review broader integrity issues in intercollegiate athletics that require deeper examination.