KU would support student-athlete compensation, chancellor says at congressional hearing
photo by: Screenshot of Senate Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade and Consumer Protection hearing on Feb. 11
Updated at 4:38 p.m. Tuesday
At a congressional hearing on student-athlete compensation, University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod said that if an opportunity arose for student-athletes to earn money from their names, images or likenesses, KU would support it.
“As a university chancellor, one of my responsibilities is to support opportunities for students while they are enrolled at KU — whether that is an internship, a chance to study abroad, or a chance to do research with a company in our region,” he testified Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C. “Today, I want to support this new opportunity for those student-athletes who have the potential to earn money while competing at our institution.”
Girod said it was clear to him that in the interest of “national consistency, fairness and equity,” a federal solution was required, as opposed to a “patchwork” of state legislation.
photo by: Associated Press
In September, California passed a law that would enable college athletes to profit from endorsement deals, preventing universities from restricting student-athletes from profiting off their names, images and likenesses (NIL).
NCAA President Mark Emmert agreed with Girod that federal legislation was needed in a national landscape with “ongoing serial litigation and NIL legislation pending in over half the states.”
Emmert and Girod were two of five witnesses to testify at the hearing on Tuesday, which was titled “Name, Image, and Likeness: The State of Intercollegiate Athlete Compensation.” The other witnesses were Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, National College Players Association Executive Director Ramogi Huma and NCAA student-athlete advisory committee chair Kendall Spencer.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, led the hearing.
“My personal view is that the burden lies with those of you at that table at the moment, not with us,” Moran said to Emmert and Bowlsby. “We stand ready and willing to be helpful as we try to figure out how we appropriately change the status quo for the benefit of all athletes who attend college.”
Moran said he was not inclined to act until the NCAA reveals its new rules. In the fall, the NCAA said it would allow players to “benefit” from the use of their names, images and likenesses and that it is working on a set of rules to be revealed in April.
“I wish Congress was in a position to be able to provide the NCAA and the athletes the opportunity to find a solution. … The ability for Congress to do that is, that’s a challenge,” Moran said in an interview after the hearing. “The next step is to see what the NCAA is capable of presenting to us in April.”
Both Bowlsby and Emmert expressed trepidation that, if not handled correctly, student-athlete compensation for name, image and likeness might be construed as payment for athletic play.
Emmert said it is imperative to distinguish college and professional sports, noting that payment to students for their names, images and likenesses cannot become a “vehicle to deliver pay for athletic performance” or an inducement to “select or remain at a particular NCAA school.”
Bowlsby was hesitant about the possible repercussions of student-athlete compensation.
“I find myself supportive of the concept but daunted by the shadow that lies between the idea and the reality,” he said, adding that he believes boosters and donors could disrupt the recruitment process.
“College sports is not a vocation and the participants are not employees,” he said, noting that “the potential for harm is present.”
Girod said the college sports model was compatible with student-athlete compensation.
“The bottom line is, there are ways to allow student-athletes to benefit from name, image and likeness while maintaining the benefits of the collegiate athletic model,” he said.
More than 98% of student-athletes neither go on to compete professionally nor have significant opportunities to earn income from name, image and likeness, Girod said. Those 98% do benefit from the education and resources they receive at their institutions, however.
“We must be cautious not to risk losing what is so valuable for the 98% while addressing the specific needs of those blessed to take their athletic talents to the professional level,” he said.
Major athletic departments, such as KU’s, have important links to all aspects of their universities, Girod said, mentioning student recruitment, donor relations and the enrollment of a diverse student body. He also said college athletics can help ensure that first-generation students and underrepresented minorities have access to an education.
Girod comments on NCAA notice of allegations against KU
About two hours into the hearing Tuesday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told Emmert she felt the NCAA was failing to be transparent, consistent and fair, and said she believed this could cause some athletes to skip college and go straight to professional sports. She said she saw Girod nodding his head and asked if he would like to comment.
Girod acknowledged that KU is currently involved with an NCAA Notice of Allegations, and although “we don’t believe the evidence necessarily supports the allegations,” he said, “we support the system.”
The most serious of those allegations involve KU men’s basketball and center on three former Adidas representatives who have been convicted of federal fraud charges related to a scheme to pay the families of recruits to attend certain schools, including KU. The NCAA in September charged the men’s basketball program with three serious violations and a lack of institutional control. It also directed a “responsibility charge” against coach Bill Self, whose communications with those Adidas representatives were a focus of the case.
photo by: Associated Press
photo by: Associated Press