CENTRAL TEXAS — Name, image, likeness. Those are the words behind the acronym NIL. It continues to be a hot button issue in the world of college athletics. Earlier this summer, the NCAA made the landmark decision to reverse their stance on student athletes receiving compensation from third parties; a decision that some say is a breath of fresh air.
"What is America? It's the land of opportunity," said Baylor student Conner Dobbs. "I guess it's a way that they can diversify their, like, brand and really just achieve. I think it's really cool."
Student-athletes are now allowed to collect money from endorsement deals or signing autographs. The ripple effects of the decision left universities wondering how NIL rules would be regulated. A hearing led by a U.S. House subcommittee Thursday morning focused on exactly that.
Baylor president Dr. Linda Livingstone was one of the witnesses at the hearing. In her testimony, Livingstone stated that the current system of states enacting their own NIL laws is unsatisfactory.
"The current patchwork system of 30 plus state laws is very confusing for institutions and students, and is not transparent," said Livingstone.
Dr. Livingstone stressed that NIL laws should treat students as growing individuals rather than employees. On a couple of occasions during the hearing, she remarked that "pay-to-play" systems should be discouraged via law.
Baylor student Olivia Texidor agrees that colleges should make professional development a priority.
"It might be much more beneficial for them to have more scholarship fundings or opportunities for different, like, internships and things like that that could help them grow and be more mature," said Texidor.
Advocates for national NIL laws like Dr. Livingstone say that the legislation should include a method of giving financial guidance to those earning compensation. The burden of suddenly managing large amounts of money may be overwhelming for some young adults.
"It's really critical because this is putting another level of pressure on our student-athletes that many of them are not prepared for," said Livingstone.
Some Baylor students, like Gabriel Powers, have similar feelings about their ability to be responsible with money.
"I don't even have, like, that much money and I don't know how to spend it, you know what I'm saying?" said Powers. "So I don't think people would be responsible with that much money anyway."
Thursday morning's hearing was the first time the topic had been discussed within the US House. Five hearings have occurred in the Senate but those efforts were eventually dismissed due to disagreements. However, the push to pass federal NIL laws will continue. The impassioned testimonies given by witnesses at Thursday's hearing may bring that effort one step closer to being a reality.