NIL legislation mulled by Congress as NCAA, athletes weigh in on payments

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As Congress considers whether to pursue legislation to regulate Name-Image-Likeness (NIL) payments, one collegiate star in Chicago says such payouts have been a huge boost to her career and her life.

A Senate hearing on the topic drew plenty of interest this week, and DePaul basketball player Anaya Peoples is one of many athletes who believes the advent of NIL payments to be a good thing.

“I love NIL,” she said. “Honestly, just coming from a woman athlete, just being able to build your own brand (is huge).”

The Supreme Court held in NCAA v. Alston that the collegiate governing body could not limit payments to student-athletes. In the years since, a patchwork of state-based laws have begun to hit books, with some schools going to great lengths to use NIL money to help sway potential recruits.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin says that there are some downsides to the process, including companies “taking advantage” of athletes by using upfront payments to reap long-term rewards, but says that overall the advent of NIL has been a positive.

“NIL has opened a new door for college athletes to benefit from the value they bring to their schools and communities. We should embrace this change, while also recognizing the potential pitfalls it brings with it,” Durbin said.

NCAA is pushing for federal legislation to regulate NIL’s, rather than allowing states to determine their own rules.

The hearings have been convened as the NCAA has pushed for federal legislation to govern NIL payments. Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti was one of the executives who spoke to the Senate committee on Tuesday.

“The Big Ten strongly supports Congressional proposals that would codify benefits for student athletes that guarantee consistency across states and sports without the need to classify student athletes as employees,” he said.

While some teams, including Utah’s football team, have offered endorsement deals to provide athletes with use of free trucks, Peoples says that she has simply been able to parlay her success on the court into making money off of shirts and jersey sales through the power of her branding efforts on social media.

 “You can do videos, ‘Day In The Life’ stuff,” she said.” You can sponsor. I do Wilson. I’ve done work with the White Sox. I’ve got to throw the first pitch. I've got to do broadcast, television and radio broadcasts.”

She even has her own page on DePaul’s athletic website, selling her own apparel.

 “In the past, people would have to go make their own jersey of me or put my face on a shirt or something but now they can go directly to the website and they can get it and part of the proceeds come to me,” she said.

The fate of any legislation remains unclear, and with that uncertainty, athletes are continuing to make money in ways that had previously been punishable by the NCAA.

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