Republican Mark Walker of North Carolina said Thursday that he plans to integrate legislation to that would allow student-athletes to profit off of their likeness, image, and name, per a report from the Raleigh News & Observer.
In a world where debates of whether student-athletes are entitled to financial compensation for their free athletic labor dominate the main topics of collegiate sports, Walker sees this opportunity to benefit student-athletes who give their all in the sports they play.
Walker said he intends to introduce the Student-Athlete Equity Act next week a couple of days before the start of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
“This is the time and the moment to be able to push back and defend the rights of these young adults,” Walker said.
Walker, a former student-athlete stated that the legislation would amend the definition of a qualified amateur sports organization in the tax code, further lifting the restriction on student-athletes receiving compensation for their name and likeness.
As most fans of collegiate sports understand, NCAA regulations state that players may receive scholarships but are prohibited from taking any form of outside payment. On the other hand, Schools profit off of a student-athlete’s likeness, selling jerseys and other promotional items.
Walker’s argument involved a stipulation where NCAA member schools would not be required to pay student-athletes themselves, but simply lift the ban on student-athletes earning potential.
“It’s just odd that in our free market system that this is the one area where we say, ‘No. We’ll let you make money for the university, but you can’t have any access to your name or likeness,’” Walker told The News & Observer. “This is an earning opportunity for 99 percent of these student-athletes who will never have another access to do something like this.”
Walker also mentioned that he met with NCAA representatives on the issue, and is open to possible guidelines that do not include a blanket ban on player earnings. When asked for an opinion on the situation, the NCAA declined to comment.
The NCAA has faced an innumerable amount of criticism and legal challenges in recent years from parties pushing to extend the benefits for student-athletes everywhere. Cases like Alston v. NCAA, a class action lawsuit that went to trial last fall that argued that a cap on the value of an athletic scholarship would prevent individual colleges from competing with each other for an athlete’s services, still provide blemishes on the NCAA’s record.