PRESS RELEASE – OCTOBER 2, 2019
For immediate release
For more information:
Dr. B. David Ridpath, Ed.D.
The Drake Group
The Drake Group is Encouraged by Federal and State Initiatives regarding College Athlete Name, Image and Likeness Rights
WEST HAVEN, CONN —
The inalienable right to profit off one’s own identity and body is grounded in constitutional law and basic civil rights. Thus, it is unfathomable that one group exists in America that is actually prohibited from doing what is allowed as a matter of course for all other American citizens. The push to force the NCAA to allow college athletes to profit off their own Names, Images and Likenesses (NILs) at the state and federal levels is endorsed and encouraged by The Drake Group. It is clear that the NCAA continues to hold on to a non-existent principle of amateurism that does not serve sports governance or college athlete development in any positive fashion in the 21st century. Simply put, it is time to allow athletes to exploit their own NILs and other employment opportunities outside the college sports season and apart from their association with their college and university brands.
The NCAA’s archaic and unfair policies regarding college athlete NIL rights are under assault at many legal and legislative levels. Several states including Washington, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Colorado and New York have put forth or are planning to file bills regarding the rights of college athletes to profit off their NILs. At the federal level, Representative Mark Walker (R-NC) is lead sponsor on a similar NIL bill for consideration in the House of Representatives, Senator Chris Murphy (CT-D) has issued several reports questioning athlete compensation and Representative Donna Shalala (D-FL) is drafting a bill to convene a Congressional Advisory Commission to study this and a myriad of other issues in college sports.
California holds special distinction in this most recent fight to change NCAA governance and definition of amateurism. On September 30th, with great fanfare and on LeBron James’ HBO show ‘The Shop’, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 206, authored by state Senators Nancy Skinner and Steven Bradford into law. Senate Bill 206 makes it illegal for a California-based school to deny athletes their rights to commercialize their names, images and likenesses or athletic reputations, empowering athletes to develop commercial opportunities, earn money, pay taxes, and contribute to society in a way that NCAA rules currently prohibit. Newsom and California have even gifted the NCAA space for a gracious retreat in that SB 206 is not implemented until January 2023, thus providing the NCAA an opportunity to adopt legislation to allow NIL rights without confronting a conflicting state law.
In typical NCAA fashion, a blue ribbon NCAA working group has been convened to study issues. A report on their findings is due in October to the NCAA Board of Governors. Any hyperbolic worry that college athletes will now get millions of dollars for autographs and competitive balance will be disrupted is merely that-hyperbole and fear mongering. The NCAA system currently supports a lucrative black market with zero incentive for a college athlete not to take money or benefits under the table. As former Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis famously said, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” If athlete outside employment is brought out of the shadows, we will have a system that responds to actual market forces, capable of being monitoring and not one inflated by hiding in the shadows.
Dr. B. David Ridpath, Ed.D., President of The Drake Group, commented, “The Drake Group applauds the state and federal initiatives to grant college athletes basic civil rights and the ability to profit off their own name in a lucrative marketplace in which the NCAA dictates that everyone can profit except the athlete. No institution is being asked to directly pay or provide the college athlete with a salary. Proponents are arguing that college athletes should have the same rights as all college students with regard to employment outside the institution. If college athletes are truly students first and foremost, removing the current prohibition should be something the NCAA enacts yesterday. Such a move is certainly not without complications and governance issues but it is not nearly as complicated as the NCAA hierarchy would want the public to believe. The Drake Group has put together an extensive position paper detailing a clear and manageable path to NIL rights for all college athletes. It can be done.”
Much of the reluctance to share the largess created by talents of college athletes may be explained by fear of loss of revenue on the part of those who control the billions of dollars generated by college athletics. University of South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner, in a moment of in vino veritas, openly wondered if some of a school’s donor base might decide to invest their money straight into athletes instead of, say, donating to a $50 million football operations center. The same point was made by TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati on Twitter as he openly lamented that boosters may spend more on his athletes rather than purchasing luxury suites. Sadly the main worry is loss of revenue for the overseers rather than doing what is right for the athlete.
The Drake Group believes that only external legal and legislative pressure will force a powerful national sport governing body like the NCAA to change. It simply isn’t enough to expect the NCAA to do the right thing and the NCAA has demonstrated neither the ability nor the desire to move in this direction on its own. We hope that more states and the federal government continue their legislative initiatives to give college athletes something that all of us enjoy–the right to profit off our own identities.
The Drake Group, in a detailed position paper on this issue, presents options and steps to enable proper tracking an oversight of college athlete NIL rights. Hosick, M. (2019, May 14). NCAA working group to examine name, image and likeness. Retrieved from http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/ncaa-working-group-examine-name-image-and-likeness
 Kendall, J. (15 June, 2019). ‘This gives me angst.’ Is NCAA about to allow players to serve as paid pitchmen.The State Newspaper Retrieved from https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article231150423.html#storylink=cpy