Two members of U.S. House add new elements to bill on NCAA athletes’, name, image, likeness

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives are re-introducing a bipartisan bill on Monday regarding college athletes’ ability to make money from their name, image and likeness.

The measure from Reps. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., is largely similar to the version that they offered last September but was not acted upon before that Congressional session ended.

It becomes the third bill related to college sports and the issue of name, image and likeness (NIL) to be introduced during this Congressional session. But unlike bills from Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and from the tandem of Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., this one has support from multiple legislators from both parties. Three other Democrats and three other Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors.

The third bill related to college sports and the issue of name, image and likeness (NIL) has been introduced during this Congressional session. (Photo: Keith Srakocic/The Associated Press)

In addition, this version of the Gonzalez-Cleaver bill has two notable changes from its earlier iteration, according to a copy of the bill provided to USA TODAY Sports:

►In addition to allowing the NCAA, conferences and schools to prohibit athletes from having sponsorship deals with certain types of companies, like tobacco companies or brands, it now says that if the NCAA, a conference or a school does prohibit such a deal, then that entity also cannot have a sponsorship deal with a company in that product category.

One of the product categories where such prohibitions would be allowed is with “any casino or entity whose primary business is sponsoring or promotion of gambling activities.” But because some schools have deals with casinos and/or state lotteries, if they want to keep those deals, they also would have to allow their athletes to make deals in that area.

►The new version also would appear to give athletes greater leeway to make endorsement deals with shoe and apparel companies. The new version says a school can prohibit an athlete from “wearing any item of clothing or gear with the insignia of any entity during any athletic competition or athletic-related university-sponsored event.” This would mean that an athlete attending a non-athletic event or studying abroad could wear apparel in connection with an endorsement contract.

As with the original version, the new bill’s “rules of construction” — or guidance related to the legislators’ intent — state that none of the bill’s provisions can provide the basis for an antitrust lawsuit. They also state that athletes who make endorsement deals will not be considered school employees.

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