On Wednesday, ESPN’s Dan Murphy reported that former Ohio State and NFL wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez would propose federal legislation addressing student-athletes’ ability to be compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL).
This comes on the heels of California governor Gavin Newsom signing CA Senate Bill 206 into law that would make it illegal to prevent student-athletes in the state from making money from advertisements, promotions, instruction, and other instances where their NIL are being used for financial gain.
“I actually think that we need to do something quickly, within the next year,” Gonzalez told ESPN. “I don’t think you have three years to figure this out. I think decisions will start happening immediately.”
Gonzalez told the Worldwide Leader that his intention is to properly address the NIL issue while also providing safeguards for student-athletes who might be taken advantage of because of their new-found earning power.
“There are a lot of people who are trying to get a piece of the athlete who do not have their best interest in mind and are out for nefarious means,” Gonzalez said. “You can imagine a world where, if there were no guardrails in place, that it could get out of hand pretty quickly. That’s the lane you’re trying to carve. How do you do this to provide necessary and deserved benefits while not inviting a bigger problem alongside it?”
Ahead of the weekly press conference from Ohio State Buckeyes head football coach Ryan Day, OSU athletic director Gene Smith spoke for 15 minutes about his role with the university and overseeing the NCAA’s working group addressing these NIL issues.
While Smith would not give his personal opinion on the matter — out of respect for this colleagues in the working group — he did say that he believed that a federal solution would be necessary to prevent different laws from being passed in multiple states, creating a patchwork, piecemeal landscape that hampers the NCAA’s desire for a level field of competition across the country.
In the press conference, Smith said that his working group would be making a recommendation to all of the NCAA member institutions at the end of the month. Gonzalez indicated that he would wait until that process is complete to officially draft the legislation.
“My plan is to wait on that,” Gonzalez said to ESPN. “I trust Gene. I know he’s thoughtful in this. ... I want to see that play out, and then he and I will have discussions on how we can solve the goals that we all have.”
At present, there is a similarly themed bill proceeding through the congressional review process. Proposed by North Carolina representative Mark Walker, the bill would change the tax code forcing the NCAA to permit players to be compensated for the use of their NIL, or risk having their non-profit tax exemptions revoked.
While Gonzalez reportedly has not spoken to Walker about the bill, it is noted that the North Carolina representative’s bill does not include the safeguards for the student-athletes that Gonzalez’s does.
The California law is not set to go into effect until 2023, allowing the NCAA to come up with its own solutions, and providing the state the opportunity to amend the law to get in lockstep with the organization. However, laws proposed in other states — including New York, South Carolina, and Florida — are looking to be fully applicable sooner. If passed as is, the proposed law in Florida could take effect as early as 2020.
Gonzalez is a former All-Big Ten WR and a first round pick of the Indianapolis Colts. He now represents Northeast Ohio’s 16th district in the United States House of Representatives.