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Facilitating College Athlete Compensation in DC

October 14, 2021

For Immediate Release
October 14, 2021
Contact: Amanda Farnan, afarnan@dccouncil.us or (202) 355-8431

Councilmember Christina Henderson Introduces Legislation Facilitating College Athlete Compensation in DC

Washington DC – Today, Councilmember Christina Henderson, along with Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Kenyan McDuffie, Trayon White, Sr., Janeese Lewis George, and Brooke Pinto, introduced the College Student Athlete Compensation Amendment Act of 2021. This legislation would place local guidelines around recent rule changes from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) permitting college student-athletes to be paid for endorsements or publicity deals – known as use of their “name, image or likeness.”
 
“I applaud the NCAA decision to allow players the opportunity to financially benefit from their brand, while still avoiding pay for play. Many Black and brown student-athletes will benefit from this shift toward a more equitable system, and our local regulations must evolve with this change,” said Councilmember Christina Henderson. “While college athletes will now have the chance to be paid for public appearances, autographs, or social media posts, there need to be basic safety measures around this activity. This legislation would prohibit pay for play, limit endorsements of products like alcohol or gambling, encourage universities to support financial literacy for their athletes, and update our local oversight of athlete agents who facilitate deals.”
 
Studies and commentators have noted that blanket prohibitions on player compensation in revenue generating sports such as football and basketball result in a transfer of value away from those student-athletes – who are 60% Black in the top five athletic conferences and tend to be from lower-income families – to highly compensated coaches and to subsidies for nonrevenue sports. As a means of addressing this inequity while still avoiding pay for play at the college level, numerous states moved to enable limited student athlete compensation options through paid name, image or likeness (NIL) activity.
 
With this legislation, the District would join 23 states that have facilitated NIL compensation opportunities for student-athletes. While broadly permitting student-athletes to earn compensation for the use of their NIL, the bill would prohibit pay for play, performance, or enrollment at a particular school, as well as compensation for endorsements of restricted products like alcohol, tobacco, gambling, performance enhancing drugs, or adult-only entertainment. Universities would be permitted to require advance disclosure of endorsement deals and agent contracts to ensure compliance with their own rules.
 
As student-athletes undertake new entrepreneurial activity, the bill encourages universities to offer financial literacy programming on the basics of budgeting and debt management, taxes, and banking and investment. It would also update existing athlete agent registration requirements with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to include agents working on these new NIL deals. 

Combined, these parameters will permit student-athletes to seize new economic opportunities with protection from bad actors and in a manner that upholds the integrity of amateur college sports.

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