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Gonzalez Leads Letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Requesting a Hearing on Name, Image, and Likeness

Today, U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16) led a letter to Chairman Frank Pallone and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers of the House Energy and Commerce Committee requesting a hearing to consider a federal name, image, and likeness (“NIL”) standard for student athletes. This comes a day after the NCAA came to a historic decision that will allow student athletes to benefit from their NIL under association rules.

“Throughout my student athlete experience at The Ohio State University, I advocated for student athletes to have equal treatment as other students on campus – the ability to capitalize on their NIL,” Gonzalez said. “It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives has so far failed to have any hearings on an issue so important to student athletes and institutions of higher education. I am writing to Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers asking them to immediately consider a hearing on the importance of agreeing to a federal NIL standard. The NCAA’s announcement is a momentous step forward, however, we must continue our work in Congress to ensure student athletes do not find themselves facing a convoluted and unfair patchwork of state laws.”

“The Energy and Commerce Committee is uniquely positioned to address this issue which at its heart is centered around fair commercial activity and market involvement for student athletes,” Gonzalez wrote in a letter to Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers. “To the credit of the United States Senate, three different Senate Committees have held hearings on this topic last Congress and the Senate Commerce Committee has held two hearings on NIL last month. It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives has so far failed to have any hearings on an issue so important to student athletes and institutions of higher education.”

Background

Earlier this year, Gonzalez reintroduced the bipartisan Student Athlete Level Playing Field Act that would establish one federal NIL standard, protect the recruitment process, and preserve the college athletics system that Americans across the country love.

Gonzalez was an Academic All-American at Ohio State where he played wide receiver and advocated for NIL rights as a student athlete. He then went onto spend five years playing for the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL.

A PDF of the letter is available here and the text of the letter is available below.

Chairman Frank Pallone                                 
Committee on Energy & Commerce                 
2125 Rayburn House Office Building               
Washington, DC 20515     

Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Committee on Energy & Commerce
2322 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515               

Dear Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers:

We write to request a hearing on state laws allowing for student athletes to capitalize on their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”). Many of these laws are slated to go into effect today and the House of Representatives has yet to hold any hearings to consider the importance of a federal NIL standard.

In Fall 2019, the NCAA announced they would work to provide student athletes with guidance on how to capitalize from their NIL under league rules, proposing to create new rules no later than January 2021. Yesterday, the NCAA finally made good on this promise by announcing they would allow for all student athletes to capitalize on their NIL beginning today. Despite this momentous step forward, there must be federal legislation to set a uniform standard across the nation, preserve the spirit of college athletics for future generations, and most importantly, protect student athletes who find themselves facing a convoluted and unfair patchwork of state laws.

The Energy and Commerce Committee is uniquely positioned to address this issue which at its heart is centered around fair commercial activity and market involvement for student athletes. To the credit of the United States Senate, three different Senate Committees have held hearings on this topic last Congress and the Senate Commerce Committee has held two hearings on NIL last month. It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives has so far failed to have any hearings on an issue so important to student athletes and institutions of higher education.

The time for action on this issue is now. Student athletes have long deserved the right to profit from their NIL. Delaying a federal standard for this right to student athletes across the nation is inequitable. We respectfully request the Committee hold a hearing at its earliest convenience to consider the issue. Thank you, and we look forward to working with you to find a fair, timely solution for all student athletes.

Sincerely,

Anthony Gonzalez

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