SEC, Pac-12 commissioners visit Washington in pursuit of help with NIL policies

Scottsdale, Arizona – Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Greg Sankey and PAC 12 Commissioner George Kliavkov met with US senators in Washington Thursday to request legislative assistance regarding name, image and similarity policies.

“Pac-12 greatly appreciates the opportunity to engage in productive conversations with US Senators in an effort to create NIL legislation that protects our student-athletes while allowing them to maximize their opportunities,” Kliavkoff said in a statement after the meeting.

NCAA President Mark Emmert, and other leaders in college athletics have called on federal lawmakers to step in and regulate NIL policies. There are currently no federal regulations about the NIL, and state laws vary widely.

Kliavkoff contacted Washington Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell, whom he has known from the time they worked together at RealNetworks. He and Sankey met to discuss the need for the legislation with Cantwell and Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, as well as other senators from both parties.

“For too long, the NCAA refused to allow student-athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness. [NIL]Blackburn said in a statement issued after Thursday’s meeting. “The resignation of NCAA President Mark Emmert is one of the many necessary structural changes that will enable the NCAA to support our student-athletes. … I have continued to push for the accountability and fairness actions our student-athletes deserve.”

Sankey also issued a statement Thursday expressing his thanks for “the opportunity to engage and engage with members of Congress.”

He continued, “As we have observed the emergence of activity very different from the original ideas about name, image and similarity, it is important that we continue to follow the national NIL structure to support the thousands of opportunities available to young people through intercollegiate athletics programs across the country.”

The commissioners were joined by Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirschland. Part of the playing field for lawmakers to give college sports some antitrust protection is that moving to a more professional model for income-generating sports such as soccer and men’s basketball will result in fewer opportunities for collegiate athletes.

Cantwell took to Twitter to welcome all parties gathered to discuss the NIL hot button issue.

Klyavkov said Wednesday that the aim of the meeting is to discuss issues facing college athletics with “influential” senators. He followed this up on Thursday, saying “we have had the opportunity to discuss the very serious negative effects on student-athletes if they are classified as employees.”

“I think it’s likely that we will eventually get federal legislation on the name, image and example, but we are also interested in discussing all the harm that would be done to student-athletes if they were considered employees,” he said on Wednesday.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Paulsby, while in favor of the meeting, has expressed skepticism that anything will come of it in the short term.

“Getting anything done before the midterms would be next to impossible,” Paulsby told ESPN on Thursday. “It’s great that they will do it. Whether anything happens… we have relationships with the same people they’ve been talking to for a while, so we’ll see what happens.… I won’t place too much importance on it.”

The meetings come on the heels of the Pac-12 Spring Meetings during which athletic directors and coaches sought solutions to better control the Nile landscape.

Kliavkoff told ESPN that it is necessary to enforce rules prohibiting the use of the NIL as an inducement to recruit or pay to play.

“Either the NCAA will work together on implementing this,” he said Wednesday, “or I’m going to lobby for a smaller group to figure out how to create and enforce the NIL rules we all agree to entice and pay to play.” The amount of the zero payment has to be proportional to the work done as a backing to make sure that we are not using it in relation to temptation and pay to play.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.